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“Meeting Request My Heart”: When Love Leaks into the Workplace

Office Romance in the WorkplaceHow will you celebrate this Valentine’s Day? Perhaps you’ll canoodle with your loved one over an almost-chicken dinner, or gossip with friends and cocktails (same thing?) over mani-pedis. Maybe you’ll throw conversation hearts at the TV screen while crying over “Gigli” for the fourteenth time (who hasn’t?), or whip up a batch of your favorite Valentine’s Day cookies while calling all your exes and promptly hanging up. And if you’re like some people, you may even carry over your questionable Valentine’s Day/life habits into the office in the form of baking homemade muffins for your work wife, donning a crocheted heart sweater to catch your crush’s eye, or leaving love notes in your co-worker’s desk. (Hint: Don’t do that.)

It appears that for many workers, this type of water cooler flirtation is turning into long-term love. According to CareerBuilder’s latest office romance survey of more than 4,000 workers nationwide:

  • 39 percent of workers said they have dated a co-worker at least once over the course of their career.
  • 17 percent reported dating co-workers at least twice.
  • 30 percent of those who have dated a co-worker said their office romance led them to the altar.

Who’s the Boss (of Your Worker’s Relationships)?
While survey results reveal the majority of relationships blossomed between colleagues, 29 percent of workers who have dated someone at work said it’s been someone above them in the company hierarchy, and 16 percent admitted to dating their boss. Women were more likely to date someone higher up in their organization, at 38 percent, compared to only 21 percent of men.

Do Not Disturb this Game of Footsie
When it comes to mixing work and play, the leisure & hospitality industry leads the way. These five industries come in higher than the national average in office romance:

  1. Leisure & hospitality
  2. Information technology
  3. Financial
  4. Health care
  5. Professional & business services

No Richard Gere-ness Here
Twenty-six percent of workers admitted that what someone does for a living influences whether they would date that person. Unfortunately for you lovers of happily-ever-after endings, 6 percent of workers said someone broke up with them because either their job required too many hours at the office, they didn’t make enough money, or their not-at-all-Richard-Gere romantic partner did not like their line of work.

And to douse cold water on your hot 1990s movie daydreams, while the majority of workers tended to date people in different professions or functions, one in five workers (20 percent) said they’re more attracted to people who have a similar job to them. Boring, right?

Happier Hours
Chance run-ins and social settings outside of the office, like happy hours, were cited as the most popular places for workers to clumsily spill drinks on one another and fall madly in love. Running into each other outside of work (12 percent), happy hours (12 percent), late nights at work (12 percent), and lunches (11 percent) were among the most popular catalysts for turning “Him? eww” into “Tim? Ooooh he’s cute.”

Kissing and (Not) Telling?
Most workers who have had office romances said they were open about their dating situation, though 35 percent reported they had to keep the relationship under wraps.

What’s your company culture like — do you encourage, ignore, or shun intermingling of the non-non platonic kind?


Amy K. McDonnell

About Amy K. McDonnell

Originally hailing from Ohio, Amy is the editorial manager on the content services team and has been with both CareerBuilder and the city of Chicago for nearly a decade. She writes on a range of recruitment topics on The Hiring Site, striving to bring a dose of clarity and humor to sometimes complicated issues around employee attraction, engagement and retention. When she's not working, Amy spends as much time as possible reading, pretending to be a chef, writing short stories, eating Nutella out of the jar, waiting for CTA buses and trains, going to see her favorite bands live, and spending time with people who inspire and challenge her.


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