This past summer, the majority of Canadian employers were seeing office romances increase.
And they aren’t surprised, says Randstad’s latest global workmonitor. As Stacy Parker, executive vice president of marketing for Randstad Canada, says, “People feel a strong sense of community in their office.”
She adds, “The company is likely filled with people who share the same values, principles, work ethic, skills, and education.” So, with people spending most of their time at work, sparks are bound to fly between two staffers with common interests.
In Canada, seven out of ten employees (59%) indicate a relationship between colleagues occurs periodically within their organization, and as many as two thirds (66%) believe it’s not a problem.
While there are risks associated with office romances—they can potentially affect the productivity of those involved, or create fear of favoritism— only 37% of workers in Canada say their relationships interfere with their performance.
Globally, relationships among staff happen most often in China, India and Malaysia (70%). They occur less frequently in Japan (33%) and Luxembourg (36%).
But the crucial question is what do you do if you’re against interoffice relationships between employees? You can’t stop them from happening—even close friendships can be a problem if they’re between a worker and his supervisor—but there are steps you can take to minimize possible distractions and risks, such as ensuring involved employees don’t directly work with one another.
Almost half (42%) of respondents believe one of the two involved must be transferred to another department. Dramatic measures like forcing a resignation is a step too far, however, with less than a quarter (24%) seeing the need for such action.
Workers in Hungary, Sweden and the Netherlands agree, with only 11% saying relationships pose that much of a dilemma.
Some companies, though, do have restrictions on interoffice dating in particular, says Parker. “Many companies have a no office romance policy, and [in these environments] employees often make sure to keep it out of the office.”
They’ll also consider seriously how they should act when at work, set expectations, and discuss how things should move forward if their relationship ends.
Taking these steps is especially important for employees who work in small offices or concentrated groups; those who work for family offices, for instance, deal with a small, demanding client base and work as an extremely close-knit team. Introducing drama into such an interdependent environment would greatly affect service quality and productivity.