There’s always the joke around this time of year about office romances blossoming at the Christmas party, but relationships between colleagues can cause real problems for companies.
No company wants to have to deal with the unnecessary and avoidable cost of situations such as sexual harassment, discrimination, health and safety or unfair-dismissal claims against the organisation.
As well as costing a fortune, these actions can harm the reputation of the business and have an impact on staff productivity.
A study carried out by IllicitEncounters.com and NotAtWork.co.uk investigated the economic impact on businesses of affairs within the workplace.
Two surveys were conducted in October 2012 asking individuals and business owners to answer questions relating to the effect of office romances on careers and their impact on businesses.
More than 1,000 individuals responded to the Are Office Romances a Good Idea? survey and more than 200 businesses to the Impact of Office Romances on UK Businesses survey.
When asked if they had ever engaged in an office romance:
75% of respondents have at least considered it.
54% have engaged in at least one office romance.
27% have engaged in an office romance more than once.
When asked if their employers had a contractual morality clause forbidding office relationships:
6% stated that their employer had it as part of the terms and conditions of their employment.
35% stated that their employer did not mind at all.
They were then asked if they felt office-based romances can impact on an employee’s productivity at work.
16% answered “Not at all”.
84% felt that it would impact productivity at least a little (38% said it definitely would).
On disciplinary actions related to office romances, 20% of respondents claimed that they or a colleague have been disciplined for having a workplace romance.
Businesses taking part in the Impact of Office Romances on UK Businesses survey revealed the following:
74% of businesses have no formal or informal policy to discourage staff from engaging in office relationships.
Only 16% of businesses said that office-based romances had no effect on productivity within their organisation. And 48% stated that it would have only minimal impact.
Only 19% of businesses stated that an office-based romance would in no way affect the career prospects of those involved.
32% of businesses would consider (or already have) a morality clause in their employment contracts to forbid office romances.
51% of businesses felt advising employees to seek romance outside of their place of work would save them money and improve productivity.
In the last 12 months, the average cost to each business from issues relating to office romances was over £65,000. So the total cost to the 200 companies surveyed was in excess of £13million.