In 2016, CareerBuilder conducted its annual Valentine’s Day-themed Office Romance Survey, which found that 37 percent of employees have dated a coworker at some point.
Perhaps even more surprising than this figure is the fact that of these workplace daters, 33 percent ended up getting married to the coworker they chose to date. This list includes famous individuals, such as Brad Pitt, Bill Gates, and Barack Obama.
Clearly, it is okay— and almost even expected— to date in the workplace. With this being said, there are both good and bad ways to go about it.
This post will discuss the proper ways in which to conduct a relationship in the workplace.
Know as Much as You Can Beforehand
When you decide to date in the workplace, it’s important to know as much about your prospective lover as possible.
One thing that’s imperative is to know both their personal and professional side. Getting to spend time with them is one way to do this. Another is talking with their non-work friends and family.
It is important to remember what is at stake with dating a coworker: if you end up breaking up, it can at best make things really awkward, and at worst, cause one or both of you to leave the employer.
It cannot be stressed enough that you need to go in with the proper intentions.
Be Familiar with Your Employer’s Policy on Relationships
Many employers have a strict policy against employees having relationships within the workplace.
If you find that your workplace falls into this category, thoroughly self-examine both your motives and the pros and cons of having a workplace romance. Think about how much your current job means to you, should your office relationship be discovered.
If the job in question is your dream job, or if you’re just considering dating a guy or girl because they’re convenient, take strong precaution.
However, if both you and your coworker feel strong, genuine feelings, don’t be afraid to explain your situation to HR. They might be able to grant an exemption to the rule, particularly if they are able to see that the romance doesn’t seem fleeting.
It is important to note that many do hide their relationships from their employer. 33 percent of those who have had an office relationship hid it from their employers because of the banning of or frowning upon of relationships with coworkers.
Act Professionally On the Job
Even if your position allows you to be in a formal relationship with a coworker, it’s important to still act professionally on the job.
Some things simply shouldn’t be done. For example, anything intimate, including public displays of affection, should be off-limits.
Even if you don’t get caught the first time by a supervisor or coworker, it very well may be seen subsequent times. It may also be caught on surveillance camera.
Getting intimate on the job also establishes a bad habit that can be hard to break, and it can make others feel uncomfortable. The cons far outweigh any potential pros.
Don’t Date Your Boss
Dating your boss— or anyone higher up on the food chain— can cause a lot of turmoil within the company, and thus, is a big no-no.
It can give the impression that any promotions or favorable working conditions were granted in part or completely due to the relationship.
The same rule applies to bosses and supervisors: don’t date someone whom you have direct control over.
If you find yourself in a situation in which you’re dating someone whom you control or who has control over you, make sure to contact your company’s HR department as soon as possible. They can likely provide advice, while engaging in damage control.
Prepare for the Worst Case Scenario
If you decide to date a coworker, you need to prepare for what could happen next to your professional life.
CareerBuilder’s aforementioned Office Romance Survey found that seven percent of respondents found themselves feeling obligated to leave a job after a breakup.
Make sure that you know your prospective significant other would hold certain things said in a relationship confidential discuss— they wouldn’t share the offhand remarks you said about your boss during a date, or how you’re actually looking to leave the company.
It’s important to think about how often you’d have to interact with your coworker if you broke up; if it’d be fairly often, consider the prospects of either finding a new job or not dating.
As a general rule of thumb, it is ideal to date someone in a different department as opposed to your own. This can help reduce any adverse circumstances that could develop later on.
Whenever possible, inform your work as to your relationship. Keeping everyone in the loop helps decrease any future misunderstandings.
Consider the industry and company culture of your firm when making the decision to date in the workplace. Workplaces with a younger demographic of workers are generally more accepting of office romances.
Avoid dating multiple people within your firm at all costs; dating more than one person can give off the impression that you’re careless and irresponsible.