What’s common between Barack Obama, Bill Gates and Brad Pitt? They all met their significant others at work. In fact, it won’t be wrong to call the workplace the most successful matrimonial site ever. According to CareerBuilder’s annual Valentine’s Day survey (2016), 37 per cent of workers have dated a co-worker, and 33 per cent of those romances have led to marriage.
But corporate workplace guidelines don’t look kindly at office romances. Because when co-workers mix business with pleasure, it’s not a heady cocktail. It can either leave you with a good high or with a bad hangover. Dolon Mitra, an HR professional says, “Typically in a company there are policies on code of conduct / ethics, harassment and marriage of co-workers. This is because there are boundaries so as to maintain a professional, productive and safe work environment in an organisation.”
But then we are all humans, and the heart wants what the heart wants. Etiquette expert Suneeta Kanga says, “With office romances, there’s always a feeling that an individual cannot be objective in making decisions if they have a personal relationship.” One of the main reasons most employees in love keep it hush-hush – easier said than done.
Companies have policies where by it is very clear that in case employees get into a romantic relationship they will bring it to the organisations’ notice immediately.
Mitra says that companies — even the ones that have dating policies — are not pyaar ka dushman. “The policies are to ensure that someone does not stand to benefit just because of his/her relationship with someone else working in the same organisation,” she notes. The HR steps in only when there’s an inconsistency in output, a feeling of favouritism, or an uncomfortable atmosphere in the team. As Kanga says, “It becomes an HR issue when someone brings it up.” Her advice: don’t snitch on colleagues.
Break ke baad
But like all relationships, even office romances may not end up in a happily ever after. “It’s after a break that the real problem starts. Working amicably alongside, after a bad break up becomes difficult,” says Kanga. Nearly 5 per cent of workers who have had an office romance say they have left a job because of an office relationship gone sour. Interestingly, the survey found out that most co-workers (1 in 10) are okay with an idea of a platonic office spouse.
Kanga says, “The biggest grey area is when either partner is in a senior position.” Though a senior dating a junior is quite common and the etiquette code is more personal than written. Just remember to follow your heart, but don’t forget to take your brain along with you.
5 scenes, 5 ways
Just started an office affair, tread more cautiously. You don’t want to set the office gossip mills abuzz.
What to do: Until it’s serious, hide it.
Dating the boss
A minefield: get together with the boss and you are sleeping your way to the top. And if you are the boss you’ll be accused of abusing power.
What to do: Switch your sights to someone more lateral to you. Or hide it at all cost.
Some offices have strict dating policies, but the forbidden fruit always seems sweeter. Ask yourself: are you looking for passion or promotion?
What to do: Follow company guidelines.
Sleeping with the competition
It’s okay as long as you are only sharing the bed and not company secrets.
What to do: Never discuss your work.
Dating the partner
Starting a business with your significant other is a good and bad thing. Good because you can discuss anything, bad because the personal and professional mix.
What to do: Cultivate smaller egos.
Nearly 5 per cent of workers who have had an office romance say they have left a job because of an office relationship gone sour.