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Sex and the….Workplace?

Last week I talked about the negative effects that can arise from a lack of boundaries in the workplace. This week I want to discuss the subject of friendliness on an even more intimate scale: dating co-workers.

The television show ‘Sex and the City’ shone a light on our more accepting views of relationships outside of the office; given that a recent survey by peoplemanagement.co.uk showed half of those interviewed had had a relationship with a colleague, are we headed for ‘Sex in the Workplace’?

What’s the (fatal) attraction when it comes to co-workers?

It appears our lust for the exciting fuels many affairs at work, although there’s just as much chance of finding our soul-mate and life partner in the office, too. Spending so many hours with the same people breeds familiarity, and the formality of the office, with its intangible barriers, stokes our rebellious minds. Whether those feelings are acted upon is the crux of the matter.

Heart computerAre relationships between colleagues bad news for a company?

Whilst many managers see office affairs or relationships as detrimental, some believe they can also have a positive effect, such as boosting employees’ morale and performance levels.

Perhaps it’s not much of an issue when things are going well. But once things fall apart and a relationship between co-workers fails, it can create an atmosphere for all. This can be exacerbated if one person is above the other in the company’s structure, and able to make decisions about their ex-partner. Such a situation often results in one of them leaving their role, either within the team or the company itself.

Studies have shown that it’s often women that resign, as they’re typically in lower-paid roles. It’s not uncommon either, for sexual discrimination or victimisation claims to arise in these circumstances.

Should businesses adopt ‘no romance’ rules, or would this infringe employees’ rights?

Certain industries, such as financial services, are understandably more cautious when employees get together on a more intimate level, and many dictate that all personal relationships between staff are disclosed. Confidentiality is a risk when employees whisper sweet nothings over their bed-pillows.

However, Business Insider’s recent survey found that 92% of those asked thought HR should keep out of their personal lives. Their right to privacy, even in the workplace, is something most felt strongly about.

It would seem that snatched glances, secretive trysts, and even stationery cupboard rendezvous, seem to be a common part of our working lives. Whereas in the past they may have been deemed as something worthy of dismissal, managers are nowadays more tolerant. Given the statistics, it’s just as likely they’re themselves involved…

Please do share your thoughts on this. Do you think office romances bring good vibrations, or are they dangerous liaisons? What’s the policy at your company in this regard?

If your working life has been negatively impacted by circumstances like the one described, you may benefit from executive coaching. For further details, contact me at angela.sabin@executive-life-coaching.co.uk.

Thanks to freedigitalphotos.net for use of the image



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