How common are office romances and what are these romances costing employers? The answers to both question may come as a surprise.
A pair of surveys recently conducted by NotAtWork.co.uk and IllicitEncounters.com intended to pull back the veil on the sort of office relationships we all suspect yet rarely find concrete evidence of. The two UK-based studies, one named “Are Office Romances a Good Idea” and the other “Impact of Office Romances on UK Businesses,” revealed just how common, and just how costly, these romances really are, uncovering the fact the majority of employees have engaged in a workplace romance at some point in their careers and estimating these affairs run employers tens of millions of pounds a year.
“Fifty-four percent of them have
engaged in at least one office romance.”
The first survey polled more than a thousand individuals and found a whopping 54 percent of them have engaged in at least one office romance and a surprising 27 percent of individuals had engaged in multiple office romances over the years. Perhaps most shocking is the fact individuals continue to engage in office romances despite believing these affairs reduced their productivity. Nearly every respondent (84 percent) believed an affair would have at least some impact on productivity, while 38 percent said an affair would “definitely” impact productivity.
Employers seem to agree on this point. The second survey, directed at more than 200 business owners, found that 51 percent of employers believed they’d increase productivity and save money if their employees avoided getting involved romantically with their co-workers. Interestingly enough, this commonly held belief among employers usually doesn’t translate into taking concrete action to prevent office romances. Even though 32 percent of businesses said they’d consider implementing a morality clause into contracts to forbid office romances, the majority of surveyed businesses (74 percent) implemented no such official measures despite the fact the average business in the UK loses £65,000 annually due to employee affairs, according to the study.