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LaNella Hooper-Williams

Personal Branding Tips and Tools for An Authentically Empowered Career

Is Office Love Good or Bad?

February 13, 2020

This week we celebrate Valentine’s Day. Love is in the air, and a plethora of cards, roses, and chocolates abound both at home and work.

But what happens when the sweetness of relationships goes sour at work? In my corporate life, a woman leader allegedly entered into a romantic relationship with the CEO of the company. According to the rumor mill, the board got wind of the situation and eventually forced the woman leader to resign. What made this situation even more uncomfortable was that the CEO was already married!

In most instances, it’s hard to stop a romantic relationship at work. People spend more time at work than any other place, significantly increasing the odds of falling head over heels for a coworker. Sometimes it works out, as in the case of Melinda and Bill Gates. In fact, according to the survey, 31 percent of workers who dated at work ended up getting married. However, frequently it doesn’t work and, quite frankly, it can be very awkward—such as the case cited above.

In 2018, CareerBuilder released its annual Valentine’s Day survey, which revealed that office romance hit an all-time 10-year low. Thirty-six percent of workers reported dating a co-worker, down from 41 percent the prior year (and 40 percent in 2008).

The survey pointed to the current climate around sexual harassment as a factor driving down the number of workers dating coworkers.

But before you pick up that arrow and aim it at a prospective lover, here are some tips for navigating a workplace romance from Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder:

  1. Check the rules. In some cases, employers have a policy that prohibits employees from dating one another. Be sure that you know your company’s policy before getting into any kind of relationship. If you don’t know the policy, check with HR.
  2. Keep your personal life out of the office. It’s important to remember to keep your personal life out of your work life and beware of social media. While 41 percent of workers today choose to keep their relationship a secret at work, posting on social media may make it much more challenging to maintain a work romance on the low down.
  3. Don’t let your romance impact your relationship with your coworkers. If you don’t properly separate your romantic and work lives, your romance may color people’s judgment about promotions, projects, team building, and responsibilities.

Everyone has a view about office romances. What’s yours? Good, bad or indifferent?

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