Office romances make employees more productive, but companies need to get better at managing the fallout from failed workplace relationships, according to new research out today.
The findings come from Professors Andrew and Nada Kakabadse, a husband-and-wife team with expertise in top teams and leadership. Based at Henley Business School, the couple are also authors of ‘Intimacy: An International Survey of the Sex Lives of People at Work.’
Their findings - based on detailed interviews with over 200 people from various backgrounds and professions including students, dentists, chairmen, police officers and secretaries - indicate 60% of people develop one or more intimate relationship at work.
“It is not uncommon for people to meet a future spouse or partner in the workplace and organisations are increasingly reflecting on how to handle these liaisons.
“The evidence suggests office romances deliver greater benefits for individuals, teams and companies, making people happier and more committed to their employers. But the question remains - is it ideal for employees to become romantically involved with each other?”
“There will always be ‘happily-ever-after’ stories, detailing how someone at work was struck by love at first sight and ultimately got married. But for every such case there will be many more which end in upset, and may even lead to dismissal.
“It has also become clear that as social media users increasingly connect with work colleagues online, the divide between professional and personal communications is blurring to cement new personal relationships, and sometimes even encourage extra-marital affairs.
“One example of how some companies are minimising this risk is the US-originated idea of ‘cupid’ contracts. This is where involved individuals confirm their consensual liaison and, if and when it ends, agree to resolve any disputes without accusations of sexual misconduct.
“What has become clear from our research is that many organisations are found wanting in not having instituted any policies or practices to address this emerging phenomenon.”