A Negative Reaction To Office RomanceA Negative Reaction To Office Romance
A recent study finds that 76% of the 663 execs surveyed say office romances are dangerous because of the potential conflicts they may bring to a company, but only 41% say their organizations have official policies in place.
February 5, 2002
While love may have the power to make the world go round, most execs would prefer to keep its magical force out of the workplace. In a report released Tuesday by CareerJournal.com and the Society of Human Resources Management, 76% of the 663 executives surveyed say office romances are dangerous because of the potential conflicts they may bring to a company.
The potential for sexual-harassment claims, concerns about decreased productivity of those involved in the romance, and concerns about lowering the morale of co-workers are the top reasons cited for banning or discouraging workplace romances. Seventy-one percent say they'd personally avoid an office romance, but only 41% say their organizations have official policies in place. "Abuses can occur," says Maggie Alexander, a VP of product planning at Progress Software Corp., a maker of database and analytical software. "A company can't allow a personal relationship to get in the way of the business." But human nature being what it is, some execs, including Alexander, are more flexible about office romances. Alexander, who oversees a team of 20 employees, says that while workplace romances are tricky, she has no policy to discourage them. "They are inevitable because, more and more, the workplace is where you meet people these days," she says.She should know. Alexander and her husband, John Sadd, met 20 years ago while working as engineers at Fry & Associates, a custom software developer. Now they both work at Progress, where Sadd is an engineer. By downplaying their relationship in the office (they have different last names, and never refer to each other as husband and wife while at work), they avoid potential problems that could harm the relationship or cause corporate strife, Alexander says. And it leads to interesting observations by fellow employees. "One co-worker was convinced we were having an affair. Imagine their surprise."
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