Workplace Romance Deal Breakers

HR & Safety

What makes a colleague ‘undateable’?

From Sam and Diane on ‘Cheers’ to Olivia Pope and the President on ‘Scandal,’ workplace romances have always made for good TV. Perhaps that’s why so many workers have tried the same thing in real life. According to a new survey from CareerBuilder, 37% of workers have dated a coworker, and 30% of those romances have led to marriage.

But what work-related factors could make a person “undateable” in some coworkers’ eyes? CareerBuilder’s annual Valentine’s Day study takes a closer look at romance at work.

The national survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder from November to December 2014 and included a representative sample of 3,056 full-time, private sector workers across industries and company sizes.

Workplace Dating Deal Breakers

While some workers have no problems mixing business with pleasure, others steer clear of getting involved with coworkers for a variety of reasons. Nearly 1 in 4 workers (23%) said that what someone does for a living influences whether they would date that person. When asked to name specific work-related traits that would make someone “undateable,” workers said:

  1. Doesn’t work on a consistent basis: 39%
  2. Has already dated someone else at work: 25%
  3. Travels extensively for work: 21%
  4. Has to work nights: 8%
  5. Earns less money than me: 6%
  6. Has to work weekends: 6%

When broken down by gender, however, women and men have differing opinions of what makes a colleague “undateable.” Women are much less likely than men to date someone who doesn’t work on a consistent basis (52% say they wouldn’t versus 28% of men), has previously dated a coworker (29% vs. 21%), or earns less than them (10% vs. 2%).

Blissfully Happy Hours

Sometimes, however, the heart wants what the heart wants: and those sparks just need the right atmosphere to ignite. Among those who have had a workplace romance, most say their romance began at happy hour (12%), followed by late nights on the job (11%), lunches (11%), and chance meetings outside of work (10%). Nearly 1 in 10 workers (9%) claim they fell for their workplace loves at first sight.

Keeping It Classified

More than one third of workers who have had a workplace romance (36%) had to keep their relationship a secret, although 1 in 4 of those workers have accidentally run into coworkers while out on a date with their workplace sweetheart.

Risky Business Affairs

Of those who have had a workplace romance, 25% have dated someone in a higher position than them, including the boss.

As if dating the boss wasn’t perilous enough, nearly 1 in 5 workers who have had a workplace romance (19%) have had an affair with a coworker where one person involved was married at the time.

Contentious Uncoupling

Some workplace romances end in more than heartbreak: 5% of workers who have had a workplace romance say they have left a job because of a relationship gone sour.

For important tips on managing workplace romances, click here. And for greater insight about the intersection of workplace romance and workplace harassment, consider attending one of CBIA’s upcoming Harassment Prevention Training seminars.

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