Are Office Relationships Losing Their Stigma?

Mixing Business and Pleasure: The Final Taboo?

Office relationships have traditionally been off-limits. But is that taboo starting to fall away? Are companies starting to turn a blind eye, even expect employee relationships (well, now that employed people are expected to stay in the office almost every waking hour to keep their jobs, it’s kind of inevitable, really…)

The Atlanta Blackstar Reports:

As the old saying goes “you don’t dip your pen in the company ink.” In other words, you shouldn’t get into a dating or sexual relationship with a co-worker.

But consider this: according to a recent Workplace Options survey, nearly 85% of 18-29 year olds would have a romantic relationship with a co-worker, compared to just over 35% for 30-46 year olds and about 30% of 47-66 year olds. Even more shocking is that 40% of those 18-29 year olds would date their supervisors. According to a CareerBuilder survey, interoffice dating has a fairly high success rate–of the 38% of people surveyed that dated a co-worker at least once, 31% went on to marry that co-worker!

Is this age-old adage becoming extinct? If you believe the stats of new employees entering the workforce, it might seem so. But a lot of companies don’t let the rank and file decide–they adopt policies that ban or limit workplace dating–all in the name of lowering liability.

Enforcing these policies can take their toll on a company. Just last month, Gary Friedman, the chief executive of Restoration Hardware, stepped down in the middle of the company’s public offering. The reason: an internal inquiry into his relationship with a 26-year-old female employee. Friedman was not married, so there was no affair. And the employee? She didn’t even work there anymore! Earlier this year, Best Buy’s chief executive, Brian Dunn, stepped down after an investigation by the board discovered he had shown “extremely poor judgment” with a 29-year-old female employee. A couple years ago, Hewlett-Packard’s chief executive, Mike Hurd, resigned amid accusations of falsifying expense reports to hide a personal relationship with an independent contractor.

What do you think—are office relationships acceptable? Have you ever had one?

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2 thoughts on “Are Office Relationships Losing Their Stigma?

  1. marc from the uk

    I think you should be careful, you are openng yourself up to so much vulnerability. I have dated a work colleague, my wife of 23 years was one of them! We were a formidable work team and achieved results, so we were left alone but I do not doubt it could of gone against us if we flaunted it. It is about respecting your peers and bosses, f you push the boundries you risk pushing the worng buttons in the wrong people. Use common sense and say secrative, but do not expect sympathy if found out. Play the game, and play fair, but do ot lose an opportunity to follow your heart as well.


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