How should HR respond when flirting becomes serious?

Some employees might think friendly banter in the office kitchen is the beginning of a budding romance between them and their office crush.

However, a recent survey shows only 20% of workers would have a romantic relationship with a colleague - That's a relief for HR right?

Nevertheless, many couples including power couples Bill and Melinda Gates, Barack and Michelle Obama and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan met at work. 

Although a majority of people (64%) would prefer to keep their professional and love life separate according to a recent poll. 16% weren’t sure if they would or wouldn't pursue a romantic office relationship.

A survey of more than 1,000 job seekers by Randstad found one fifth of respondents would have a romantic relationship with a colleague.   

The problem with office relationships is they can sometimes end with a messy – and not to mention awkward - workplace breakup. 

The average full-time worker in the UK clocks up 37.2 hours a week (source: ONS) and employers have become more relaxed about their employees being an item especially when an estimated 31% of colleagues who date end up getting married (source: careerbuilders).

The law says employees are entitled to a private life so a relationship with a colleague should not be a sacking offence. However, rules can vary and workers are advised to check their contract and staff handbook for guidance.

Adam Nicoll, Marketing Director of Randstad UK, said: “We spend nearly 50 years of our lives in work and in most cases see our colleagues more than we do our own families, so workplace relationships are to be expected.

“However, the reality is most work couples don’t make it to the altar and like any breakup ones at work can cause unwanted disruption and be especially messy if the couple worked on the same floor, department, or worse still, team or desk.

“Before starting a relationship with a colleague, both parties should think about the consequences of their relationship and the impact it could have at their workplace and on those around them and if in doubt, keep their hands to themselves while at work!”

about the author

Osob Ahmed - Senior Recruitment Consultant

Senior Recruitment Consultant, Digby Morgan