Romance at work

Since many single adults spend most of their waking hours at work, it seems the combination of long hours, close quarters and the slow hum of the photocopy machine may be the perfect recipe for romance.

But beware of the consequences, says a research.

"When people ask me about the pitfalls of office dating," said Nicole Beland, the sex and relationships editor at Menís Health magazine, "I always recommend you prolong that platonic relationship as long as possible because your job is on the line as well as your heart."

"Office romances are not generally good for your career track. Executives who are serious about their careers need to think about business first; courting Alice in accounting isnít the best way to maintain that killer instinct," said Marc Cenedella, president and chief executive of TheLadders.com, an online executive job search service that conducted a survey about workplace dating.

According to the survey, 42 per cent of the respondents (1,044 executives) said they have been involved in an office romance.

Workplace romances can also lead to conflicts in the organisation. Complaints of favouritism abound, as well as concerns about lowered productivity and legal liabilities.

Fearing sexual harassment suits, an increasing number of corporations are considering implementing policies or contracts that would prohibit co-workers from dating.

According to a survey by the American Management Association of New York, only 12 per cent of organisations maintain a written policy on employee dating.

Among those with written policies, 11 per cent prohibit co-workers from dating, whereas the majority of companies prohibit employees from dating a subordinate (92 per cent) or a superior (69 per cent).

Thus, 88 per cent of American companies do not have any written policy about dating.

"Most companies are going on the assumption that their employees are adults and they donít have to have a policy. But people lose their heads when they fall in love," said Kristan Peters, an employment attorney in New York.

"Relationships donít always proceed smoothly. If people break up badly at work, that can create problems for the employer, particularly if one person is the supervisor of the other person. If the dumped person suddenly finds himself without a job, it can lead to a lawsuit." That is why some companies have what is called "love contracts" in which those involved state that their relationship is consensual and unrelated to the company.

"I have had to get employees to sign off on those when they are having an affair and we try to protect the employer against a claim later on after the relation may or may not turn sour," says Peters.

Peters had to deal with a lot of employees suing their companies after a bad break up, sexual harassment, unjust dismissal or other reasons.

But office relationships not only lead to legal problems, but can also create dissension in the ranks. Office gossip, jealousies and other petty behaviour can quickly ruin the chemistry of an office. Dating co-workers is not going to bring a large firm down, but it could be a very disruptive force in a small office with 10 to 15 persons.

Even though 44 per cent of workplace romances end with a marriage (AMA survey), not all of them have happy endings.

In a career-intelligence.com poll posted online, 23 per cent of those surveyed who had dated someone in the workplace said they wouldnít do it again, and 34 per cent said they didnít think it was a good idea. Twenty-eight per cent said they had dated someone from work and would do it again, and 15 per cent said they hadnít dated anyone from the office, but wouldnít rule it out. ó IANS

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