What’s love got to do with it?
by Michele Majul-Ibarra
Workplace romance happens everywhere. People fall in love everywhere and sometimes flirt around in the workplace.
The reality is that members of the workforce socialize mainly at work. Many of us meet most of our friends at work and romantic relationships may even form. According to Vault.com’s 2017 Office Romance Survey, 57 per cent of the participants surveyed stated that they got involved in some kind of office romance. Twenty one per cent of these office romances were random hook-ups. Sixteen per cent led to long term relationships while 14 per cent led to ongoing casual relationships. Thirty six per cent of those who engaged in workplace romance worked in the same department.
Interactions may start with a simple compliment or a playful nudge. In part, the rise of digital connectivity contributes to further interactions, as most employees are now more accessible around the clock via smartphone. However, there’s a fine line between being flirtatious and being over-friendly. For example, if Supervisor XYZ or Co-worker ABC compliments you a lot but never does it with anyone else, he or she is probably flirting with you.
Barack and Michelle Obama met when she worked as a supervisor during a summer that Barack worked at a law firm. Their relationship worked out well, but not all of them do. For the most part, workplace relationships may not cause any issues. If it does not create a conflict of interest (i.e. employee reporting to a direct supervisor or manager), and the work is getting done, then it should not be a problem.
Here are some helpful pointers to be mindful of when interacting with colleagues or when considering asking somebody out:
Be familiar with company policies
Although some organizations have no strict no-romance policies, it is very important to familiarize oneself with policies before getting involved with a co-worker. In some companies, relationships are allowed as long as the person of interest does not work in the same department or reports to them.
Avoid conflict of interest
Many organizations consider employee and supervisor relationships a conflict of interest. A conflict of interest in the workplace is when a person makes a decision based on their personal gain rather than making decisions based on business reasons. For instance, influencing the recruitment or promotion of an employee of interest would be an example of a conflict where the decision is not in line with the business but rather with their own personal interests.
We know that interpersonal relationships at work will inevitably develop. While some relationships are successful, there is a risk and it could be far more complex than one may think. Awareness and good judgement are important because, ultimately, personal integrity is your job security.
This article is intended for information purposes only and not to be considered as professional advice.
Michele Majul-Ibarra, IPMA-ACP holds an Advanced Certified HR Professional Designation with the International Personnel Management Association. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org