SUBSCRIBE: Newsletter

Human Resources



sad businessman on valentines day - 123RF

Are office romances dying?

Hong Kong HR Masterclass Series: 19th June 2020 Data Analytics for HR
Become a true strategic partner to the business by leveraging data and analytics to make strategic talent decisions.
Register now here


With Valentine’s Day falling on a Wednesday this year, you might expect to feel the romance in the office. On the contrary, according to CareerBuilder’s 2018 Valentine’s Day survey, the air of romance isn’t going to be as strong as last year.

The survey, conducted by Harris Poll among 809 full-time workers, revealed that office romances are at a 10-year low with only 36% of workers reported dating a co-worker in 2018 – down from 41% last year and 40% in 2008.

In terms of gender differences, 37% of men said they have dated a coworker compared to 35% of women, while one in five male workers (20%) say they have dated someone at work two or more times in their career, compared to just 15% of their female colleagues.

Almost a fifth (22%) of workers reported dating someone who was their boss at the time. More common among women than men, with more than a quarter of women (27%) reporting they have dated someone who was their boss compared to just 16% of men.

Additionally, 30% of these workers say they have dated someone who was at a higher level in the organisation than they were. Again, this is more common among the women – 35% of female coworkers, compared to 25% of their male counterparts.

ALSO READ: 9 signs your employees are having an office romance

Thankfully happy endings are not impossible. About a third (31%) of workers who dated at work ended up getting married.

However, that’s not always the case – almost a quarter of workers (24%) had an affair with a colleague where one person involved was married at the time. Interestingly, this was more common among the men – 27% of men compared to 21% of women.

Additionally, 6% of workers have left a job because a romantic relationship with someone at work went sour (9% of women compared to 3% of men).

“Office romance is experiencing a dip and whether it’s impacted by the current environment around sexual harassment or by workers not wanting to admit the truth, the fact remains that office romance has been around forever and will continue to be,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder.

“To avoid negative consequences at work, it’s important to set ground rules within your relationship that help you stay professional in the office and keep your personal life private.”

READ MORE: Relationships, not careers, suffer most from an office romance

In line with these findings, here are some tips HR leaders can share with employees in case they think exploring a romantic relationship with a coworker.

Be clear about the rules
In some cases, organisations have a policy that prohibits employees from dating one another. As a HR leader, if your organisation has such a policy, be sure to let employees know of them and make yourself available to employees in case they would like to clarify the details.

Remind employees to keep their personal life out of the office
If your organisation allows for office romances, be sure to remind employees that if they do get into an office romance, it’s important to stay professional and keep their personal life out of their work one and beware of social media. CareerBuilder noted that while 41% of workers today choose to keep their relationship a secret at work, posting on social media may make it much more difficult to keep from your coworkers.

Remind staff to not let their romance impact coworker relationships
In line with the previous tip, remind staff of the possible negative consequences of not properly separating their romantic and work life. For example, their romance may color people’s judgment with regard to promotions, projects, team building and responsibilities.

Photo / 123RF

Human Resources magazine and the HR Bulletin daily email newsletter:
Asia's only regional HR print and digital media brand.
Register for your FREE subscription now »

Read More News