Yes, the title is crass and inflamatory, but I wanted to make an impacting statement. THE most famous workplace “romance” is, of course, Bill and Monica. Bill was obviously confused as to what constituted sex (perhaps he had never experienced oral sex with Hillary and had no idea it existed), but the fact remains the relationship not only began at work, but took place at work as well. Maybe Bill can auction off the famous blue dress and donate it to Hillary’s presidential campaign, but that’s a whole other story.
The workplace has become a meeting place and a sort of singles club for men and women. Afterall, we spend over one third of our time at our jobs and we develop strong connections with our co-workers. As long as it’s mutually agreeable there’s basically no problem. Even if the relationship ends, as long as the two parties are capable of behaving like adults, there is usually no conflict spilling over into job performance. Issues come in when one party isn’t interested and the other party is persistent and harassing. This could become a sexual harassment issue and companies need to be very careful when it comes to this.
When I worked at a major retail company I was bothered constantly by another employee. Despite the fact that I told this person I wasn’t interested, he continued to insist I go out with him and managed to be wherever I was at any given time. I found myself on edge and spending more time dodging this guy than completing my work properly. It finally got to the point that I had to say something to my supervisor on an informal basis. I didn’t wish to file a formal complaint, as the other employee had never been lude or sexually explicit. He was merely a pest. He was spoken to by his manager and he finally left me alone. On the other hand, this very same employer has a policy stating that there is to be no dating between employees and their superiors, for obvious reasons. However, most of us knew there were several cases of managers and employees dating and sleeping together and the company was willing to look the other way.
Studies show that over 40% of all employees between the ages of 25 and 40 have engaged in at least one workplace romance. At one point, many employers had a “no dating” rule for their employees, but found this was hard to enforce, nor was it legal. Romance at work can be disruptive to work and job productivity. When dating employees spend more time flirting at the proverbial watercooler than getting actual work done it can affect employee moral. It’s also likely that an office affair will stir up gossip and this also interferes with job performance.
Then we have the extramarital affairs. How many of us has seen this scenerio play out? Extramarital affairs are a disaster and a one way road to nowhere to begin with, but add to the fact that the affair is going on in the workplace brings up a whole new set of problems.
Companies almost always have a sexual harassment policy in affect, but often neglect to go over it with their employees. Handing out a booklet along with a hundred other pamphlets and piles of paper stuffed into file folders is not enough. Periodic trainings either in groups or on computers is necessary to keep employees informed as to what constitutes sexual harassment and what behaviors are expected of them at work. In addition, as office romance increases, companies should, if they don’t already, have policies for dating and romance. Then again maybe we should all do what a former co-worker used to say, “Don’t fish in the company pond.”