Is this the end of the workplace romance?
- More than three quarters of HR decision makers think current social movements have made workplace romances less acceptable
- 78% of companies have updated or reviewed their policy on romantic relationships in the workplace during the last year
- Dalliances at work are forbidden at almost one in twenty (4%) companies
- Don't tell the boss - Brits hide an estimated 21 million romances
New research1 from Direct Line Life Insurance reveals how recent social movements have changed the landscape for workplace romances. With over three quarters (78%) of HR professionals stating that recent campaigns against sexual harassment in the workplace have made relationships between colleagues less acceptable. Despite this, more than half of companies (52%) still do not have a formal policy on romantic relationships between colleagues, with a quarter reporting that they only have an informal policy in place (25%).
According to HR directors (22%), as the working environment changes it is making it more difficult for colleagues to date, with over three quarters of companies (78%) having updated or reviewed their policy on workplace relationships in the last year and nearly a third (32%) making changes to their policy.
Workplace romances are forbidden at almost one in twenty (4%) UK companies. However, legal experts say these 'bans' are unlikely to be enforceable as it may breach individuals' rights for respect of their private and family lives, as enshrined in the Human Rights Act2.
Half of Britain's workers have been in a workplace relationship (50%) and nearly a quarter (23%) have had more than one dalliance with a colleague. Of those who have had a more than a platonic relationship at work 73% did not inform their manager or a human resources representative, meaning that of an estimated 29 million workplace relationships, only 7.8 million have been reported, leaving 21 million 'secret' romances.
Table one: HR policies
|Policy||Percentage of companies surveyed|
|Workplace romances must be disclosed||40%|
|Workplace romances must be disclosed if they involve - a superior and someone who reports directly to them||27%|
|Workplace romances must be disclosed if they involve - two people working in the same team||15%|
|Workplace romances must be disclosed if they involve - an employee and someone working for a supplier||11%|
|Workplace romances are forbidden||4%|
Source: Direct Line Life Insurance
Considering how many workers have dated a colleague, it's not surprising that 82% say it's acceptable to be in a workplace relationship. Over half of workers (54%) say they would enter into a workplace romance if the opportunity arose. In fact, across the UK almost a quarter3 (23%) of workers are married, engaged or in a relationship with somebody they previously or currently work with.
Jane Morgan, Business Manager at Direct Line Life Insurance, commented: "Current movements prompting discussions about professional relationships and conduct are long overdue and very welcome. With this in mind it’s important that if you're embarking on a new romantic relationship at work you double check your company's policy, as even if you 'think it's ok' your companies policy may have recently been updated.
Regardless of how people meet their partner it is important to ensure they are protected in event the worst happens. Life insurance could contribute towards the alleviation of financial hardship in the unfortunate event of a partner's death.
Direct Line Life Insurance offers an affordable way for families to help look after loved ones financially if someone passes away, paying out a lump sum to help deal with every day money concerns such as household bills, childcare costs and mortgage payments."
Susan Quilliam, Relationship Psychologist, commented: "It's natural that people who work together may become attracted, as you see each other every day, have mutual interests and have lots of opportunity to develop feelings for each other. But it can be challenging. You need to read the signs and remember that the social conventions in a bar on a Saturday night don't translate to the workplace environment, no matter how relaxed your office culture may be!
Of course, who you have a relationship with is your decision, but tricky situations can arise. What if your workplace has strict regulations about dating? What if your relationship impacts on the office dynamic? What if HR or senior members of staff ask questions? To stay in control of the situation at work and in love you need to take care."
For more information on life insurance, please visit https://www.directline.com/life-cover/cost-of-delay
Notes to Editors
1 Research conducted by PureProfile among 100 senior HR professionals between 31st May and 5th June
3 Research conducted by Opinium among a nationally representative sample of 2,006 adults between 18th and 21st May 2018
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