Why Office Romances Don't Last
In another publicized story about romantic relationships and the office, SFGate.com reported that San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom had an affair with his (now former) commission appointments secretary, Ruby Rippey-Tourk, who is the wife of his political aide, Alex Tourk. What was the fallout? Newsom has weathered the scandal, but Alex Tourk left his job on the mayor's re-election campaign. Ruby Rippey-Tourk left her job in the mayor’s office, underwent a substance abuse program and received $10,154 in catastrophic illness pay, donated by city workers (pay usually reserved for those who are terminally ill).
Signs of an Office Affair
Even with reports of office romance disasters, hrwebcafe.com reports that true stories of office affairs are increasing, according to a survey taken by Spherion (a Florida-based employment firm) and Harris Interactive. The poll showed that 4 out of 10 workers admit to having an office romance with another colleague at some point in their careers. On the upside, 25% of romantic relationships in the office lead to marriage, according to the survey.
Office Dating Ethics
In another survey, reported by money.cnn.com, office dating ethics were polled by SnagAJob.com, an employment agency for hourly workers. The online poll, of 800 respondents, revealed that 72 percent of men and 60 percent of women were infatuated with a co-worker. When it came to revealing their feelings for their crush or acting on it, 34 percent of the women say they might do something, while 40 percent of the men would make a move.
Statistics of Relationships in Workplace
Yet another survey, a Harris Interactive poll sponsored by Atlanta-based employment firm Randstad, revealed issues in workplace dating by region. According to results, the big flirters are in the West (45 percent) as compared to the South (37 percent), Northeast (34 percent) and Midwest (32 percent). Those in the West were more likely to date a co-worker, 23 percent, while 15 percent in the Northeast, Midwest, and South said they would. Funny, these are all lower than the 40% of employees who told hrcafeweb.com they had had an office affair...
Men may be office flirts, but women tend to establish emotional relationships for support from the opposite sex. About 53 percent of the women surveyed have, or have had, an “office spouse”, a person who they lean on emotionally, and confide in about personal matters and relationship issues. Only 42 percent of the men say they have had an "office spouse".
Policies Banning Workplace Romance
According to SFGate.com, policies banning workplace romance are not absolute: “Most personnel experts don't suggest that companies try to ban all office romance. That would be nearly impossible to enforce and, with California's strong privacy laws, probably illegal. Some experts suggest policies that prohibit relationships between superiors and subordinates. Others suggest that an employee inform his or her supervisor or personnel office if they are embarking on an office romance.”
Rules for Good Workplace Relationships
As reported on careerjournal.com, Southwest Airlines, which has more than 1,000 married couples employed, allows office romances and has realistic rules for good workplace relationships. If other employees object to an office romance, they can file a complaint with the employee-relations department or with a manager, who is responsible for finding a remedy, if the office romance negatively affects Southwest Airlines' workplace.
All this is a long way from the 1950s office policies. As shown in the movie, "Good Night, and Good Luck.", even an enlightened employer like CBS television had rules that required one of two employees to quit, if an office relationship turned into a marriage. These rules started out to reduce nepotism, but eventually were seen as discriminating against married women.
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Dr. Al Lee