Despite the Risks, Office Romances Remain Popular

By Paula Santonocito, GCDF

If you’re involved in or considering an office romance, you’re not alone.

Although a survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) finds approximately 25 percent of companies have some form of policy that prohibits or strongly discourages workplace dating, single women and others continue to view the workplace as a place to socialize—and socializing often leads to romance.

Cupid in the Cubes

Indeed, the 2011 Office Romance Survey from, a leader in career intelligence, finds 59 percent of employees have engaged in an office romance, whether a long-term serious relationship, an ongoing but casual relationship or a random office hook-up—or more than one of these.

Not surprising, more men than women reported (or at least admitted to) participating in a random office hook-up, 23.3 percent men as opposed to 15.44 percent women.

Industry seems to factor into whether you’ll find love (or lust) in the workplace. The top industries for workplace romance, according to Vault’s survey, are publishing; advertising; marketing; real estate; and human resources, respectively. The five industries with the least lovin’ are graphic arts and design; fashion; agriculture and food; transportation and logistics; and accounting, respectively.

Past Experience

Survey respondents who said they had participated in an office romance were asked if it impacted their personal or professional relationships with other coworkers. Seventy (70) percent of respondents said no, but 30 percent said yes.

Several of the comments from “yes” respondents are worth noting:

–          “It created tension inside the office and jealousy.”

–          “People’s gossip took a toll on my managerial capacity. My subordinates were not as respectful as they were once they found out.”

–          “It is very difficult to keep yourself out of the gossip pool once rumors begin to spread.”

Vault also asked respondents if, based on past experience, they would participate in a workplace romance again. Sixty-three (63) percent of respondents said yes, while 37 percent said no. However, while 67.13 percent of men who had previously engaged in an office romance said they would do it again, only a little more than half of women, 55.7 percent, said they would again participate in an office romance.

Worst Case Scenario

As tempting as it may be, a workplace romance can prove disastrous to your career. Among people who engaged in an office romance, 18 percent responding to Vault’s survey said an office romance had caused them or the other person to leave the company; 7.73 percent of men left a company because of an office romance, while women left almost twice as often: 13.21 percent of the time.

Consider several of the comments from women survey respondents who voluntarily left or were fired from their jobs because of a workplace romance:

–          “I was involved with a senior partner at a large law firm. He ended the relationship in a very cruel way, and I got to the point where I simply couldn’t stand to be anywhere near him.”

–          “My boyfriend and I got fired because of our relationship.”

–           “I am the woman, so of course I ended up leaving!”

Apparently, when it comes to your career, love does not conquer all.

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Paula Santonocito, GCDF is a business journalist specializing in employment issues and the author of more than 1,000 articles on a wide range of career and human resource topics. A certified career expert, she holds a Workforce Career Coach Facilitator (WCCF) certificate from Thomas Edison State College and has been awarded the Global Career Development Facilitator (GCDF) designation from the Center for Credentialing and Education (CCE). She is career editor of


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