Spending most of the day at work could lead to relationships beyond the professional kind. CareerBuilder’s annual survey on office romance found nearly two in five (38 percent) US workers have dated someone who worked for the same company, and 16 percent said they have done so more than once. Of those who dated someone from the office, nearly one-third (31 percent) ended up marrying their office sweetheart. But office romance is very complicated and risky, especially if the relationship doesn’t end well.
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What can you do if you’re in a romantic relationship at work?
1. Check the company policy: What is your organization’s take on office romance? Can employees be involved in a relationship? Check this out first to know your next steps. While some companies ban it completely, some are flexible in approach. If your company does not allow it, don’t do it. You may risk your job and/or any disciplinary action.
2. Let your HR rep or manager know: Office romance cannot be kept a secret for a long time. Sooner or later, your co-workers are bound to find out and the gossip will be difficult to manage. If you and your partner are in the same group or are in a supervisor-subordinate relationship (which particularly can blow up to disastrous proportions if not handled well, resulting in legal repercussions and discrimination suits), let your HR representative or team manager know. They can help by moving one of you to a different team or offering alternate steps to your situation, depending on company policy.
3. Set break-up rules: Stephanie Losee and Helaine Olen, authors of Office Mate: Your Employee Handbook for Finding — and Managing — Romance on the Job, suggest that “people enter into a breakup agreement the equivalent of a pre-nup. You talk about the breakup and how it could end and lay down certain ground rules in terms of behavior…You have to decide as a couple that there’s something bigger than you to protect and respect each other enough to not damage your careers.”
4. Set boundaries: Clearly define office and personal boundaries. Public display of affection is a big no-no. Texting incessantly, dropping by each other’s offices, etc., could be very distracting and can make fellow co-workers uncomfortable.
5. Keep the relationship discreet: If you are able to maintain your relationship, keep it as low-key as possible. Don’t talk about your relationship with co-workers, update on social media, etc. These things could just increase gossip around the office and create awkward situations.
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