Is dating a coworker a good idea? It depends on office fraternization policies and if you’ll be able to work well together when the romantic relationship ends.

Office romances are frowned upon in the working world, but that hasn’t stopped one-quarter of employees from dating their coworkers, according to recent research by Blind, an anonymous workplace network.

“We often hear the advice to not date coworkers, but that wisdom might be based on unrealistic expectations. We spend so much of our time at the office and communicating with colleagues that it’s only natural for relationships to blossom,” said Kyum Kim, Blind co-founder.

Is Dating a Coworker a Good Idea?

A 2019 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that aside from being uninterested these are a few of the main reasons why employees refrain from getting involved in workplace romances:

  • I believe workplace romances are unprofessional (33 percent)
  • I am concerned about employer policies on workplace romances (25 percent)
  • I am concerned about potential sexual harassment claims (17 percent)

Over 40 percent of employees who have dated a coworker chose to keep their relationship a secret, according to research by CareerBuilder. The stigma against workplace romances coupled with potential repercussions from HR likely factored into their decision to keep their relationship under wraps. 

What If It Doesn’t Work Out?

Another valid concern about romantic relationships between coworkers is what happens if it ends, and worse, if it ends badly. 

Surprisingly, more than 30 percent of workers who dated a coworker ended up marrying them. Only six percent of employees have left a job after a romantic relationship with someone at work ended. 

How to Handle Office Romances in 2020

Socialization at work is inevitable. It’s important for team building and fostering a supportive work environment. Close work friendships can even boost job satisfaction by 50 percent

Office policies that emphasize communication and transparency when relationships form are more beneficial than those that only outline the potential consequences of fraternization.

“Because so much of our waking time is spent at work, it’s no surprise that romances develop in the workplace,” said Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., President and CEO of SHRM. “It makes little sense to forbid them. Instead, employees should be encouraged to disclose relationships. This is the most effective way to limit the potential for favoritism, retaliation and sexual harassment claims.”

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