The Ups and Downs of Romance in the Workplace

Romance in the Workplace

Our careers are important for us as we aspire to work hard to get promotions and noticed for our hard-work and our ideas. Some of us work long hours at work, and this leaves little time for us to go out into the dating scene.

In the office, you are dealing with people consistently among your colleagues or customers. As a result, it is just normal to see people showing interest in one another as you get to know each other closer as you work with each other all day.

Romance at work is not necessarily a bad thing as no one can prevent people from falling in love with another as even the law respects such a right. They say that love knows no boundaries. However, this might not be the case at work as there are specific workplace regulations and there could be possible dangers.

Today, we will go further into romance in the workplace in depth to give you the bigger picture. Let’s get started!


The Dangers and Pitfalls of Romantic Relationships at Work

When it comes to romance, we don’t know when and where we might fall in love with someone. In fact, with the introduction of longer hours, the office has become the most natural place to find a partner.

Sociologist Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D of the University of Washington states, “There was a time when men and women were linked economically as well as for emotional survival. Now we think of couples as just emotional units. But before that, they were a survival unit. Well, the world has taken another rotation, and we’re back to being economic partners-by preference as well as necessity.”

Sometimes, many people consider the workplace as the best place to look for their partner for life. In the workplace, you can be assured that the person whom you might fall in love with has the same interest and passion. Moreover, he or she might also be looking for a person just like you.

It seems that the workplace is a perfect place to get into a serious relationship. However, there is always a danger in every opportunity. It is true that the workplace offers more advantages for possible romantic relationships with someone, but there pitfalls in such situations.

At work, you are expected to accomplish specific tasks. Most companies are aware that romantic relationships among their employees can have both a negative impact on their productivity and profitability.

When one employee falls in love with a colleague, there is a tendency that the person in love would focus on this person at the expense of their work. Although many couples who are into such a relationship insist they get more inspired to work, the reality speaks differently.

Both men and women should really question if it’s truly worth putting their career on the line if something goes wrong. HR should help their employees go over these nine questions from Psychology Today to make sure they’re on the right track.

Many companies recognize such risks. This is the reason why most of them do not allow their employees to be in such a relationship, especially if they work in the same department.

Consequently, employees who are caught being in romantic relationship with co-workers in the same department might be re-assigned in another department. If there is no vacancy in another department, the company has the right to ask someone from the couple to resign from the job.


How to Deal with Co-Workers Dating Each Other

If you are assigned to the human resources department, you might be asked to evaluate and manage employee relationships to boost the productivity of the company as a whole. The challenge is when you need to address certain issues that employees are violating the company policies.
What if the policies they violate are theoretical and not legal? For example, a company has a policy to separate two workers having romantic relationship by assigning one of them to another department. The problem is when their relationship is a secret relationship, which may have been revealed by rumors. This needs to be investigated thoroughly as there is a chance, the party in question will deny any allegations.
Another case is when two workers are already dating each other, but they perform their job well, and their relationship doesn’t affect their work. However, you know there is a policy that you need to enforce or implement.

To deal with this matter, you will have to take note and document everything, so you know your scope and limitation. You don’t need to go beyond certain boundaries by trying to meddle with co-workers that are in romantic relationship. You can submit such documents and reports to your immediate supervisor.

What if your supervisor has such a relationship with his or her subordinate? This is perhaps the most difficult situation you might face as an HR professional. If this is the case, you can directly talk to your supervisor’s immediate superior. Just make it clear that you have no intention to bypass your supervisor’s authority, and all you need to do is accomplish your work.

The best way to deal with this situation is to release a circular or memo to warn all employees and supervisors to refrain from explicitly having a relationship with a co-worker within one division. You can do it if this is one of your tasks as an HR worker. However, if your task is only to evaluate employees, all you have to do is to make an honest evaluation or assessment without any bias.


When Is It OK to Date a Co-Worker?

It seems that dating a co-worker is prohibited in many companies and for good reasons. What makes a relationship bad is when the work of the employee who is in a romantic relationship with co-workers gets compromised. The worst scenario is when such couples are also affecting the work of other employees.

According to HR Daily Advisor, “in most states, an employer can enact a policy that prohibits employees form dating one another.” These policies however, may dependent on your state and local laws.

On the other hand, there are also many reasons dating a co-worker would be acceptable, if it was allowed by an employer. One worker can date another outside work, which means they won’t have any problems if these dates happen off company grounds.

Try to imagine some actors and actresses who become lovers because they work together on a certain project. They are considered co-workers, but when you watch their films, what you can see is everything that the director wants you to see. They have also been able to finish such projects because they do exactly what they are expected to do.

On the contrary, they are not hesitant to let the public know about their romantic relationships. This scenario is one of the best examples of dating a co-worker. At work, all employees are like actors and actresses who need to perform certain duties regardless of their personal affairs as long as such personal affairs do not intervene in the workplace.

One can date a co-worker by simply remaining professional. It is also possible to let other co-workers know about the presence of such a relationship. Although these workers may be included on a watch list, the relationship may still remain on the watch list without any further actions from the company if such a couple remains professional.


Legal Risks

There are several legal risks not only for a worker who is dating a co-worker but also for employers. There are times that employers are also going beyond what is legal. The problem is that every state has different laws on the matter of workplace dating. Moreover, every company has different policies.

What is only certain is that the court acknowledges the policies of a company that are signed by its employees in the hiring process. If a company bans any romantic relationship based on its policy and is signed by its employees, the company has all the right to implement such a policy but with the due process.

On the other hand, workers may sue their company when the policy is misleading. Words like “dating,” “relationship,” and “romance” are difficult to specify as legal terms since they can be subjective. This is why it is also very important for every company to include such definitions of terms in their employee’s contract.

Companies may face certain legal risks in implementing a policy of discouraging romantic relationship at work. This is because workers are protected by civil rights laws. Therefore, all company policies must be specific and fair based upon state laws.

The problem is when a worker who is terminated is of a different race. The case may become the issue of racial discrimination. In addition, workers who are being sanctioned may file a case against their companies on the issue of privacy. Relationships can also be a private matter, so this is also a sensitive issue which every company must carefully deal with.


Horror Stories

There have also been many horror stories that happen because of romantic relationships at work. The reason for this is because relationships may not work in the long run. Sometimes, it leads to violent breakups at work, property damage, depression, and even suicides. The scary thing is that not all people are the same. Some people may take such breakups lightly while others may take it very hard.

If this happens in your workplace, it will have a negative impact on the daily operation of your company. This is what many employers are avoiding and keep workplace dating a no-no in their company policy.

There are also stories of murder at work because of jealousy. Although you may not hear such news all the time, other similar cases must have happened without having been sensationalized for privacy purposes.

One thing is for sure; relationships with a co-worker do not always become successful. In many cases, relationships of this sort end up in disaster. However, nobody knows whether or not a relationship will work as much as it is difficult to know if such relationship eventually became a horror story.


Successful Relationships

If there are horror stories that happen out of dating a co-worker, there are also success stories. Actually, there are a lot of success stories that started at work. This is evident in the profession of every family you may encounter along the way. There are many families of consisting of the same profession, whether they are doctors, lawyers, artists, photographers, or business professionals and they all work in the same office or company.

This is the reason why many young people have developed a mindset of finding a perfect partner at work. When they start working after graduating from college, they start thinking of building their own family. They believe that their work can bring all the things they dream of including a wife or a husband.

Most of them have found a perfect relationship at work, and their relationship ended up with them getting married. As a matter of fact, there have been many cases that two co-workers who have got married having invited their colleagues and their superiors in their wedding.

Companies typically stay out of individual’s private affairs. Businesses focus on their products and services and teamwork within their companies to get this accomplished.


What to Do When You Fall in Love with Your Co-Worker?

When you fall in love with a co-worker, the most important ideal is to keep your feelings to yourself. You should be focused on the work at hand and your daily tasks that need to done. It’s fine to have lunch with one another if that opportunity arises, but again all emotions should be kept at home and not shown at work.

And if you are already in a romantic relationship, all you have to do is to talk to your special someone about certain issues at work. It is best if you agree on what both of you should behave in the workplace. You can also ask for legal advice to know your rights and obligations depending on your state laws.

When you fall in love with a co-worker, you won’t need to be in constant communication. You shouldn’t use the company resources for your personal relationship. All you have to do is to do your job, and spend the rest of the time together after work.


How to Deal with a Breakup at Work

Breakups are one of the hardest things to deal with, especially if you are the one directly involved in such breakup. When you’re down, the tendency is that you can’t focus on the important tasks at hand. However, filing a leave of absence is not the solution. In fact, it may augment your agony because there are fewer things than can make you forget your feelings.

Focusing on your work will help to take away the feelings you felt. After a while, you will become more productive than ever. It is just normal to become down or depressed, but life must go on, so you have to prove you are not the loser in this situation. Make your work your inspiration!

Never talk in a negative manner to other co-workers about what happened between you and that person as it’s nobody’s business, and you don’t want to add gossip to those busy-bodies around the office. When you do talk about these issues, you appear as an untrustworthy employee.

Treat that person with respect even though you don’t want to. Don’t shoot glares at them, and don’t appear to look angry. Other employees will pick up on this negative behavior, and it won’t be beneficial for you with other employees. They may see you as a negative person and leave you out of any future outings that you may have participated in with them before.

Look at the pros and cons of this dating experience and think carefully about whether you want to go through this experience at work again. You lived it and you learned from it, now it’s time to move on!


How to Deal with Awkwardness

Chiara Atik author of Modern Dating: A Field Guide states, “It can be extremely awkward to work with someone after a breakup. You’re going from being the most important people in each other’s lives to being mere co-workers again. Most people want to avoid their exes at all costs after a breakup, but if you work together, you’re forced to not only see each other every day, but interact. There’s no pretending they never existed; and depending on your office environment, you may even be somewhat privy to their post-breakup dating life. It’s not so much the end of a romantic relationship as it is a transition into a more distant, professional one. Your ex is still a part of your everyday life, and rewiring how you think of them and how you communicate with each other is challenging.”

Awkwardness actually happens only in the mind and not in the workplace. It is your paradigm that tells you are in awkward situation. You have to remind yourself that life goes on and there are tips out there to help you bounce back from your office breakup.


Why Romance Is Sometimes Inevitable and How to Protect Yourself and the Company

In the workplace, romance sometimes is inevitable. This is because you are socially exposed every day as you interact with people, and you see them every day. If two people are attracted to one another, the more you get closer you will become to each other. As a result, you can’t help entering a romantic relationship at work.

Nevertheless, there is nothing wrong with it. The important thing is that you still do your job, and such a relationship doesn’t cause any trouble at work. The only problem is when your employer does not interpret such a relationship the way you see it.

If this is the case, it is recommended you seek legal advice. You can also communicate with your employer and clarify everything. In this way, you can protect yourself and the company as well.



Romance at work sometimes can’t be avoided; however, keep in mind that the term human resources still has the word “human.” This means that every company should expect and allow their employees to act as human beings with discretion.

Of course, everything has a limit. A workplace is still a workplace and not a dating place. Employee relationships must remain professional, especially in the office. Therefore, the boundary between love and work must be managed properly within the appropriate boundaries.

Interpersonal relationships, even those that are not romantic in nature can be very complicated. Romance in the workplace can add to the stress of a team and can put in jeopardy the workplace climate of an organization.


Having a system in place that allows peer-to-peer feedback about this and many other aspects of your company can really help improve their engagement, happiness, productivity, loyalty and overall employee experience.

If you’d like to find out more about how EPIC By Clarity Wave can help your business, please click here to schedule a free demo.

P.S. By the way, we would love to welcome you to our LinkedIn Group, HR Today: Employee Engagement, Workplace Climate and Company Culture. We have lots of great content dedicated to employee engagement, the employee experience, and other fun and interesting topics.

The 12 Worst Things You Can Do at Work

The 12 Worst Things You Can Do at Work

Building a career can be a challenge. It requires work, skill and talent, but it also requires avoiding a toxic workplace that can hamper your ambitions.

If you can find a great organization with a company culture that you can embrace, your chances of success will be enhanced. However, if you want to keep your career on track, there are a few things that you should never do at work.

Some of them are just bad choices, but others involve situations in which you could actually be hurting your career by doing something that you view as a good thing.


Stealing idea1. Never take credit for someone else’s work.

This is essential if the other person is your subordinate, but it can cause just as much harm if you are stealing a peer’s thunder.

You risk being publicly unmasked, which makes you seem devious and untrustworthy. If the credit should go to someone you supervise, you are sending him or her a message that you are the most important member of the team.

In this age when employee engagement is critical to retaining top talent, you could find your star player becoming less productive, less cooperative and more likely to abandon ship just when you need someone to bail you out of a tight spot.

Incidentally, taking credit for someone else’s work is not always an active step. It can also occur when you passively accept praise because your boss assumes that you are responsible and you do nothing to dispel the perception.


Youre late2. Strive to never be late.

Whether you are arriving in the morning, attending a meeting or relieving a colleague for lunch, be on time.

When you are late, you are sending a clear message that you do not value the time of others.

If you are always late, try to determine what is causing your tardiness. Are you staying up too late to make it in on time?

Try going to bed earlier.

Do you lose track of time during work hours?

Try setting the alarm on your cell phone to remind you that you have someplace to be.

Other possible reasons for constantly running late include procrastination, being easily distracted or difficulty disengaging from conversations when you need to.


Sick3. Do not show up for work when you have a contagious illness.

Many people think that coming to work when they are ill shows character and strength. However, if you are contagious, no one is going to appreciate your efforts, including your boss.

If you show up with the flu, for example, you could spread your germs to your colleagues, and in a few days, you might discover that your office is deserted because the rest of the staff has wisely called in while they recover from the disease that you passed on to them.

Even if your coworkers do not fall ill, they could still spread the bug to infants or people with compromised immune systems who could face serious complications from the disease that you spread.

At the very least, you will not improve your employee relations with your coworkers.


Cell phone hammock4. Conversely, never call in sick if you are healthy.

You are leaving your team short-handed, so your coworkers will need to cover your duties as well as their own.

It may be a beautiful day for a picnic in the park with your significant other, but how can you truly enjoy yourself when you know that you have placed an unnecessary burden on your colleagues?

Even worse, how are you going to explain your speedy recovery if your boss happens to take a stroll in the park while you are frolicking while allegedly ill?

Gossip5. Never gossip about a coworker, especially with other coworkers. 

Maybe you think that Jane is in dire need of a new wardrobe or that John has put on a lot of weight recently.

Perhaps you spotted Tom at a restaurant with a woman other than his wife or you have heard that Joan has filed for a divorce.

You may think that Sue only got promoted because she flatters the boss or that Harry gets preferential treatment because he and the boss both graduated from the same school.

Whatever your thoughts might be or whatever you have heard, avoid workplace discussions. If you simply must gossip, wait until you are home and tell it to your significant other — or better yet, tell it to your cat; he will likely appreciate the attention.


Overworked martyr6. Do not be a martyr.

Martyrs will do anything asked of them if it will benefit the company or their boss.

They seem unable to refuse any request.

If they are asked to work every weekend for the next three months, they will smile and acquiesce.

If they are asked to take a trip, they will go even if it means that they will miss seeing a child’s appearance as the star of a school play.

If they are assigned a project with an impossible deadline, they will work around the clock to complete it on time. Once upon a time, this type of dedication was appreciated by management, but today, smart managers know that martyrs are potential liabilities.

Martyrs are always teetering on the brink of a critical mistake or a meltdown.

Some managers claim that martyrs contribute to a toxic workplace by causing unrest among coworkers and creating an atmosphere that is not conducive to teamwork.

Good managers know that there is a big difference between employee engagement and martyrdom; they know that their most productive employees are engaged but have a good work-life balance.


Stabbing the boss7. Avoid biting the hand that feeds you.

Today, organizations are placing increased importance on the company culture.

They want everyone to be “one big happy family” with everyone invested in the mission statement and working toward the company goals.

When employees carp about the company or its management, they are viewed as disloyal, disrespectful and a poor fit with the company.

You may feel that the company needs to improve their employee relations program, hate the company’s newest product or believe that whoever decided to replace the content management system was an idiot.

Whatever your thoughts, complaining loudly to anyone who will listen will not help your cause. If you feel that you have ideas that will improve the situation, take the time to organize your thoughts, find supporting evidence and discuss the issue with someone who has the authority to make changes.

Maybe your ideas will be ignored, but at least you have proven that respect your employer.


Middle finger8. Never burn your bridges.

You may have heard about the flight attendant who quit in a very dramatic fashion; while his flight was awaiting takeoff, he resigned and then exited the plane on the emergency slide.

He was promptly arrested, and it is highly unlikely that he will ever work for another airline.

Furthermore, his unprofessional and explosive conduct may limit his opportunities with any other type of company.


Screen Shot 2017 03 14 at 7.55.49 PM9. Avoid boasting.

Bragging always creates conflict, makes others feel you are belittling them and conveys a childish attitude.

Maybe your bonus was much more than you expected, but boasting about it to others who may have received less is not going to win you any popularity contests.

Even if your boss told you that you are the most intelligent employee he has ever hired, keep it to yourself.

Misunderstanding10. Never assume that your actions will be perceived correctly if you do not communicate effectively.

For example, you might notice that one of your coworkers is always coming in early or working late. You assume that it is because she has too much work to do, so you tell her that you would be happy to take some of her workload.

You think that you are being generous and benevolent; she may think that you are insulting her abilities.

The better way to handle the situation would be to mention her extended hours to her and ask if she needs any assistance.

You may discover that she is only working those hours because she is handling a project that involves making calls to people in different time zones.


Email mistake11. Always be careful of what you say in your emails.

You might think that your boss is the north end of a southbound horse, but you should not send an email to your coworker expressing that sentiment.

You may believe that you can talk the production manager into prioritizing an order for your customer, but do not send the customer an email telling him that.

These things have a way of coming back to haunt you; all the recipient has to do is forward your email to someone you would prefer not to see it.

Along the same train of thought, watch out for the insidious “Reply All” button.

Suppose a customer service representative forwards an email to you that she received from a customer. The customer is requesting a concession that you are unwilling to make.

You write a reply explaining that it is not possible to agree to the request, but you include a note that this particular customer is a royal pain in the neck and that you would rather walk barefoot over hot coals than give him the time of day.

If you hit the “Reply All” button, the customer now has written proof of your true feelings — and he is probably going to present this proof to your boss.

Liar12. Never lie.

Whether you are covering for yourself or someone else, your career will suffer when your lie is discovered.

You will jeopardize your reputation and credibility.

Many managers believe that telling lies is the worst thing that anyone can do at work. It leaves them wondering what else an employee might be willing to do.

Would they pad their overtime hours or expense account?Would they steal supplies from the company?
Would they embezzle funds?

By telling a lie, employees risk being perceived as untrustworthy, which is never a good attribute to be assigned to anyone looking for career advancement.

These behaviors range from inconsiderate or rude to destructive and cruel. Perhaps the most insidious thing about them is that they can sneak up on you, and you can find yourself doing them without being consciously aware of your actions.


Having a system in place that allows peer-to-peer feedback about this and many other aspects of your company can really help improve their engagement, happiness, productivity, loyalty and overall employee experience.

If you’d like to find out more about how EPIC By Clarity Wave can help your business, please click here to schedule a free demo.

P.S. By the way, we would love to welcome you to our LinkedIn Group, HR Today: Employee Engagement, Workplace Climate and Company Culture. We have lots of great content dedicated to employee engagement, the employee experience, and other fun and interesting topics.

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