If there’s anything TV shows like “Cheers,” “Mad Men” and “The Office” have taught us, it’s that nothing adds excitement to the workplace like a little romantic interlude. Perhaps that’s why so many workers have tried the same thing in real life.
A new study shows that life truly does imitate art when it comes to romance in the workplace. Nearly 2 in 5 workers (37 percent) have dated a co-worker, according to CareerBuilder’s annual Valentine’s Day survey. Of those relationships, 1 in 3 have led to marriage – much like “The Office”’s Jim and Pam.
Life’s imitation of art doesn’t end there, either. In a move reminiscent of Don and Megan from “Mad Men,” 23 percent of workers who have had an office romance dated someone in a higher position than them, with women more likely than men to have done so. And much like another romance between Sterling Cooper’s Roger and Joan, 17 percent of office affairs involved at least one person who was married at the time.
Much like scripted relationships, many real-life romances come to tragic ends. Five percent of workers who have had an office romance had to leave their job after a relationship took a nosedive.
Keeping Their Love Locked Down
Adding to the drama of rendezvousing at the office, 33 percent had to keep their relationship a secret from their co-workers – though not always successfully. More than one 1 in 4 workers who have had an office romance have run into co-workers while out with their office sweetheart, and 17 percent owned up to it.
Happily Ever After Hours
Among those who have had an office romance, more than 1 in 10 say their trysts began late night on the job (12 percent). The next most popular place for romance to blossom were after-work happy hours, followed by chance meetings outside of work, and over lunch. Nine percent of workers who have had an office romance claim they fell for their workplace loves at first sight.
Nothing to See Here, Folks
Then, of course, there are the Hollywood-worthy workplace relationships hold a closer resemblance to that of Liz and Jack from “30 Rock” or Mulder and Scully from “The X-Files”: Nearly 1 in 10 (8 percent) employees say they have a platonic “office spouse.”
Workplace Romances and HR: It’s Complicated
While office romances can be a slippery slope, only a minority of workers in office relationships have felt the need to keep their coupledom a secret, which may be a sign that most companies are tolerant of workplace romances – assuming employees are able to maintain professionalism. Still, many employers have employees sign “love contracts” to protect their organizations against sexual harassment claims or other legal action should relationships go south. If you fear negative results from workers mixing business with pleasure at your own organization, you may want to consider creating a similar document or making sure you have a policy in place to handle these situations.