Thursday, May 13, 2010

Office Romance: What Do Your Co-Workers Think?

Although you may think that your office romance only affects the two people involved, it also has an impact on your co-workers and team members.

Several issues arise through co-workers perception and treatment of office romances. These range from a co-worker feeling “left out” to litigation brought on by co-workers. Perceptions of an office romance by co-workers can be positive or negative dependant on how they perceive the motivations of those involved in the relationship. For example, romantic involvement between peers is seen as more acceptable than between supervisor and subordinate.

There are many issues involved with the perception of a supervisor dating a subordinate. One is trust. Co-workers may feel that the employee will tell the manager anything to get ahead, including secrets or lies about fellow co-workers. Furthermore, co-workers may feel that the subordinate is enjoying special treatment and receiving an unfair advantage in the workplace. Loss of trust among co-workers can lead to lessened productivity and dissolution of teamwork.

Additionally, a workplace romance can lead to lower morale amongst team members. If co-workers feel that a person involved in a relationship will receive special treatment, they may feel that they do not need to bother to do a good job. Loss of caring about work and performance can be detrimental to a company.

Being involved in a workplace relationship can also violate office norms. Groups and departments often developed norms and boundaries regarding personal and professional behavior. Group members may become discouraged and lose motivation and camaraderie due to violation of the office norms. The other group members may become decide to retaliate or get revenge if they are frustrated by another group member’s involvement in a workplace relationship.

The group may also fear that their reputation as a team could be damaged by a members’ involvement in an office romance. They may fear that they team will not be taken seriously by others who are aware of the relationship.

However, workplace relationships can also have positive affects on a team. If the participants in the relationship were close with team members prior to entering the relationship, and the dynamic does not change, then teamwork can continue to move along smoothly. Additionally, the newfound “closeness” of those involved in the romance can bring the entire team closer together. The increased motivated and enthusiasm brought forth by the couple can also re-energize the group and make them more motivated and productive as well.

Furthermore, although there are co-workers who would look negatively upon those involved in an office romance, there are also those who would think positively about it. Co-workers may be happy to see a successful couple in love, and with a renewed enthusiasm for their job and performance. Groups can become happier and more cooperative together with the introduction of a new social aspect in the group. If a couple maintains professional demeanor in the office, then co-workers are likely to be much more accepting of the relationship.

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