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Inter Office Dating

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Many organizations have adopted the policy that does not allow the dating or marriage of two employees. This topic is always a heavily debated subject by the employees of these companies, as they do not feel these will be any conflict of interest or drama brought into the office. I will be addressing the possibility of what kind of reaction a spouse or partner will have when the other person is promoted past the other. I will also be expressing the companies’ concerns of what can happen in the workplace between couples, some of these are sexual harassment issues that happen during and after the relationship. The companies’ rights to prevent its employees from coming together, and what the law says they can do. I am going to also present the side of these employees and how this rule can affect an employee’s moral and work performance when they have such strong feelings for another. The final topic is the ethical decision that surrounds the whole subject of inter-office dating. These ethics involve the questions that are presented to the two employees that are breaking the rule, should they tell their supervisor about their feelings for each other or should one of them quit their job, and if so, which one is going to quit? There are also the friends of the couple that know it is against company policy, but do they get their friends in trouble just because they know it is ethically right to always tell the truth.
Is the policy against workplace dating becoming a thing of the past? While most employees would like to think so, most companies still have their adopted policies that ban or set limits on workplace dating in an effort of lowering their liability. Even though companies are trying to stop their employees before they have a chance to come together, a survey by Workplace Options found that around 85% of 18-29 year olds would have romantic relationships with someone at work. This is compared to just about 35% for those employees that are 30-46, and the upper age levels of 47-66 was even lower at around 30%. ( Although, older employees believe in the saying that you should never dip your pen in the company ink, a recent Career Builder survey found that of the 38% of people that they surveyed that admitted to have dated a coworker at least once, 31% went on to marry that coworker. Although this seems like a reasonably high success rate, business owners still must figure out where the legal issues will fall and what is the best policy regarding workplace dating.
The legal issues are always a potential liability that surrounds any employer-employee relationship. If a workplace romance should end, this would then put the company at a higher risk of becoming a liability. When a relationship ends and one of the former couples continues to interact at work with the other member, the employer can still be found guilty of sexual harassment. This is especially true when a subordinate and a supervisor enter into a relationship, because it becomes very hard to provide any evidence to show that the relationship was consensual due to the difference in power of positions. There are tree common ways for an employer to address any potential sexual harassment claims that come from any dating in the workplace. The first way for an employee to handle workplace dating is to ignore the situation and hope that no employee will file a claim of harassment, and if they do then it will be addressed under the existing company harassment policy. The second way still has a liability exposure for the employer, but the company may introduce a policy that bans any workplace relationship. This will not stop any employees from dating; it will only cause them to hide from their employers. The third process for an employer to protect themselves is they may require each employee involved in the relationship is a mutual agreement, and it can also layout any guidelines that the employer may require for proper conduct in the workplace. ( a policy is not likely to stop two people from dating, but it can outline any repercussions that will be administered if not followed. The best advice I have ever been given is to avoid this touchy area between my company and personal is to never dip my pen into the company ink jar, and putting it this way was a way to make one never forget.
There are many different ethical situations that can be brought into play when two employees from within the same organization begin to involve themselves in an office romance. One of the first unethical actions is if these two involved employees are knowingly breaking the company rule that strictly prohibits any such activity. All employees are required to follow the rules that are set in place for a reason, and this reason is to protect the investment of the company and its employees. Two employees that knowingly break the company rules can cause a strain on the other employees around them; this strain can come from many different areas. One strain comes between the employees when more than one person likes the same employee, and this employee is put in an awkward situation because they know if they choose only one it will not only break the company rule, it can also lead to revenge, sabotage, and a fall in work production. The employee that does not get chosen can become irate and set out to make these other employees fail, they may inform upper management of their romance, or they might keep quiet while secretly sabotaging every project that is assigned to them.
The ethical question that usually has to be addressed when two employees enter into a relationship together and they know it is against all company policies is: should one of them voluntarily resign their position and if so which member of the relationship is going to leave. This question alone usually causes a strain on the relationship between the two employees, because both individuals must still be able to sustain their personal lifestyles. These employees know it is wrong to ignore company policies, but neither side is usually willing to vacate their position without having a solid commitment from their partner. A relationship like this will put fellow employees in a position where they will have to make ethical decisions of should they inform their supervisors of the involvement of two fellow employees. This is a hard decision to make for any employee, as they have to ask themselves do they want to get involved in such a position, or is it even any of their business to begin with. These employees know that the ethical thing to do is let someone else know of this situation, but the repercussions to this decision may also lead to bad things for the employee that told.
The romance between two employees may also put their true friends in an unethical position within the company. These friends know it is wrong for these employees to be involved in an office relationship, but it is hard for any friend to make the right decision and rat them out. Those involved in the relationship may try to keep this a secret for a little while, but as the situation becomes more serious it becomes harder to hide this involvement from friends. These friends are then put into a situation that may harm their professional career if they refuse to follow the policy set forth by the company, and in the best interest of the company.
When inter-office dating is allowed to happen by the company, there can be many rewards that are gained by both the employees and company. The first benefit to allowing an inter-office romance is that this will promote some happy workers. Those employees that are engaged in an inter-office romance tend to be happier at work because they have someone that they can talk to and understands the stresses that they are feeling at work. Work place romances promote a more productive environment, and also seem to have a workplace of fewer health issues. ( When an employer allows people who are dating or married to both work in the same office, it raise the attendance levels of these individuals because these employees are not missing work to spend time with their spouse. It would be hard for both parties to skip work, let alone having only one call in for no reason, as this would put their partner in a position of having to make an unethical decision of lying to their boss or tell the truth and maybe cost them their position.
There are also many downsides in a place of employment that allows two employees to date or marry. The biggest downside to this situation is when a relationship between employees breaks part and they are unable to continue to work together as adults. If these two employees are unable to work together, this may cause turbulence in the environment and require these employees to be transferred to new positions within the company or May even cause the termination of one or both people. If the couple should have a child together, one of the employees may leave the company to stay at home and raise the child, but even if they do not quite completely to care for the child, one of the parents will have to miss work when the child is ill or has to be at an appointment. Either way the relationship goes, the organization must be always ready to hire and train new employees to replace those employees that are gone from work. Another downfall of allowing inter-office dating is when one partner gets promoted past the other, this presents a problem when the employee that has been passed up gets their feelings hurt or feels jealousy of the other, the work performance and moral of these employees will go down and so will the workplace attitude. These are only a few of the downsides to a company allowing their employees to date, but they will all cause the environment of the workplace to change, and usually not for the better.
When an organization needs to forbid this fraternization between employees, they need to develop a policy, publicize it, and make sure to enforce it. This is not a standard policy as all businesses differ in culture, industry, and so do the laws of the business location. A new policy needs to be given to every employee that works for the organization, and also every new hire needs to be given a copy of this during their orientation. These employees should be required to sign a form that states they have been given this information and that they fully understand and penalties for violating the policy. ( once the policy is placed in effect; it must be enforced evenly between both parties, whether it is between a man and woman or a manager and their subordinate employee. It is hard to control these romance or the unwanted advances of co-workers as we tend to spend approximately one third of our lives at or around work. A company can handle this area and watch relationships turn into a very ugly lawsuit.
The younger generations of employees that are just joining the workforce after college are dating their co-workers more and more today. National surveys are confirming that the way office dating is looked at by employers has changed. This change is mostly due to the fact that a more relaxed generation is entering in the workforce, and they are causing the workplace to become a casual environment. ( Co-workers have always socialized with each other, and now office romance is no longer against many company policies. This is said to be true in companies that employ a lot of recent college graduates, because they seem to commonly pair off due to all of the long hours that they spend together during the work week. It is suggested that the most common way to meet someone is through a friend, and if all of your friends are at work because you have not time for friends outside of work, then this will just keep feeding a cycle of office dating. A poll in a five-county Kansas City area, that asked 600 single people where they meet people to date revealed that work tied for second with bars as a place where they find dating partners, the number once place to meet people was through their friends. ( surveyed over 1,300 workers and found that 22% of these workers started dating after working on a project together, 15% started dating after working late together, and 13 % admitted to start dating after happy hour with co-workers. This attitude is taking over the office rule books, and it is allowing workers to ride together and if they work in different departments they can learn from each other about a different side of the company.
Young professionals are working longer hours than ever before, and they are also changing jobs more often than any other time. This means that any situation that might cause an awkward environment with a co-worker that had been dated is no longer there anymore. The job hopping that happens now helps a co-worker move on from one company to another if the situation between two people should become testy. The attitude of those that work in a small office can be completely different because there are not a lot of new people to meet due to the small number of positions in the company. Also the workers from a smaller company feel it is harder to meet that someone special because so many people are into dating other people from their workplace.
The age old corporations are now beginning to follow their younger competitors’ examples and start allowing office romance to happen. These older companies are having a harder time getting the younger generations to come to work for them, as they younger employees are looking to join the more casual and relaxed younger generation companies. These age old companies that do not allow dating within the office are spending more money on training because of the higher turnover rates. The tighter regulations at these employers are causing one or both of a couple to look for new employment because they will be punished for their relationship. The new idea behind their employees more freedom rather than keeping them locked into an office or cubicle. Google has a campus that is referred to as a Google university, and they allow their employees the freedom to work in a variety of environments. These employees are allowed to meet and work outside, in the coffee shop, or one of the many other areas set up in an effort to create a more relaxed workplace. The older generation companies are having a really difficult time getting employees to stay for long periods of time when there are employers that offer their employees the opportunity to spend time in the nap pod when they are tired or overstressed.
There is always going to be a debate between whether or not inter-office dating should be allowed, and is it healthy for the organization. Over the last few years the attitude has begun to change more to the ideas that it is alright to allow employees to date or marry, while working together or for each other. This topic has become a top priority for most Human Resources directors because the chance for a harassment lawsuit is becoming greater with each new step for same sex rights. These lawsuits used to be mostly between men and women, but the playing field is now equal to all teams. Today the human resources managers are being told that it is better for the company to do away with most rules that limit the workplace romances. No one knows why for sure as to why they are loosening this grip on the romance, and some are speculating that over time they have realized that there are less bad situations then they had expected there to be. They might even be loosening this hold as an effort to try and keep employees in their current positions rather than having them go to a competitor that is much more open to allowing this romance. Companies have to adjust their guidelines to the changing of the workforce attitude if they want to keep the more relaxed younger generations happy and in place for many years to come. I still say the best way for anybody to avoid this situation is to never dip your pen into the company ink jar.


"Is Workplace Dating Really Off Limits? BY Chas Rampenthal." N.p., n.d. Web.
01 Dec. 2013.

Sutherland, Karen. "Dating In the Workplace." N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2013. <>.

Reh, John F. "Office Romance." Management. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Dec. 2013. <>.

"Workplace Dating Is No Longer Taboo." Workplace Dating Is No Longer Taboo. N.p., 25 Nov. 2005. Web. 06 Dec. 2013. [<>.

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