Are Americans Sick of Office Romance?


Americans have lost their passion for office romance, at least according to a recent article in BusinessWeek.

The magazine cites two studies from earlier this year from the popular job sites and CareerBuilder, and claims that romantic relationships in the workplace are on the decline, partly due to the recession and an increasing amount of lawsuits.

“This February, 75% of U.S. workers surveyed by job search website believed a workplace relationship could bring a conflict. 62% said they felt office romances were a distraction from job performance.'s annual Valentine's Day romance poll has shown an alarming decline in reported office trysts,” BusinessWeek reports.

However, the studies themselves paint a bit of a different picture.

While three-quarters of those surveyed by Monster this year did admit that workplace relationships can lead to conflict, the majority of those surveyed (53%) said they had a crush on one of their co-workers, nearly half (48%) would consider dating a co-worker in another department and more than a third (36%) admitted they have actually done it. In fact, if that’s not enough to show that workplace relationships are alive and well, the same study also found that 12% of those surveyed not only dated a co-worker, but ended up marrying one.

Meanwhile, the Careerbuilder study that BusinessWeek cited actually concludes that the rate of workplace relationships “remains the same” even as the economy fluctuates. In fact, as the vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder noted in the study, “Workplace relationships are more accepted these days, with 67% of workers saying they aren’t keeping their romance a secret.”

Other studies this year have come to the same conclusion: office relationships are anything but dead.

That said, there is no doubt that there are external factors that may cause employees to have second thoughts before entering into a relationship.

As BusinessWeek points out, the poor job market may make workers feel like they have to be on their guard and avoid any behavior – including inter-office romance – that could jeopardize their position. Then, there is the fact that some offices require workers to sign “love contracts,” which “effectively takes the fun out of an office romance.”

However, the real growing threat at the moment are retaliation lawsuits.

“Such suits are waged by workers who claim they were fired to prevent them from filing a discrimination claim against their employer,” BusinessWeek reports. “The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's records show claims involving retaliation grew by 23% in 2008—roughly twice the rate of all other claims.”

These factors may have an affect on workplace relationships going forward, but the data at the moment seems inconclusive at best.

What do you think? Should workers be policed and penalized by their employers over office relationships?

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