Schlep into the office and get back to the stresses of the job. Who looks forward to that? An office romance may make Monday mornings easier and more fun. But is adding a bit of excitement to your work life worth the risk?
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Romance in the Workplace – The Good
These days, people spend the bulk of their time at work, which makes the temptation to start an office romance strong. After all, these are the people you see everyday. You have a lot in common with them. When you spend this much time with someone, you get to know them on an intimate, day-to-day level. You get a feel for their intelligence, personality and ethic and this can create a type of chemistry that could lead to something more.
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Romance in the Workplace – The Bad
The most common one being, if it doesn’t work out, you still have to see your ex and work with him or her everyday. This is especially hard on the person who didn’t want the relationship to end. This type of situation can lead to poor performance, increased absenteeism, workplace drama and a possible hostile work environment.
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Also, workplace romance rarely, if ever, stays between two people. Soon the rumor mill gets started and it’s everybody’s business. Now your love life is the subject of gossip around the water cooler and all eyes are on you and the person you’re dating. Relationships need time to grow between just two people before being brought out into the open. Constant scrutiny can drive a quick wedge between you.
Romance in the Workplace – The Ugly
Aside from creating a tense office environment, having an office romance can also lead to potential legal consequences. For example, if one party wants to end the relationship but the other one doesn’t, a sexual harassment claim may come up. Another potential ugly consequence of workplace romance? The person you’re dating may already be in a committed relationship. Imagine the embarrassment of finding this out through a nasty phone call or email from a furious significant other! Susan Llewellyn Deniker offers another sobering thought: “Romances gone wrong can lead to workplace violence.” Remember this; just because you work with somebody doesn’t mean you really know them. The person you’re dating may have a serious mental illness or some type of emotional instability you’re not aware of.
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The Supervisor/Subordinate Relationship – Double Trouble?
The supervisor/subordinate relationship is one of the trickiest office romances to navigate since there are so many potential pitfalls. For one, favoritism is going to be an issue. Think of it this way: If your supervisor has ten other employees under him but he’s dating you, your coworkers are going to start treating you differently. Whether he is or isn’t offering you any special “perks”, such as raises or time off, people are going to believe he is.
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You may even risk turning into the office outcast. As a supervisor dating a subordinate, you may run into some issues as well. Say you’re the supervisor and the person you’re dating suddenly believes they no longer have to work as hard or even do their job at all. Normally, you would reprimand the person but considering the relationship, your hands are now tied. Supervisor/employee office romances may also lead to legal consequences.
What to Do When Romance is Unavoidable
Some office romances go beyond the excitement of a mere fling; they’re the real thing. If you and the person you’re dating believe this is something lasting, it’s best to disclose the relationship with a supervisor or management above both your positions for a fair analysis of the situation. Timothy A. Dimoff, CPP explains how some companies are taking office romance policies a step further, “Many companies today are creating “Love Contracts” for people that are dating each other from the same company. The purpose of these contracts is to clearly outline specific guidelines and acknowledgements by both parties in the relationship. This protects the company, as well as defines the responsibilities and behavioral guidelines of the parties involved when they are at work.” -intelligence