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Cath Everett

Sift Media

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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Valentines Day: Two out of five employees look for love at work


Although many UK employers have traditionally frowned on workplace romances, a huge two out of five employees will nonetheless be looking for love at work this year, according to a survey.

The poll undertaken by also revealed that a third of men would take a job based on the attractiveness of new colleagues. Some 36% of both genders admitted that they indulged in daily ‘eFlirting’, while half intimated that they had already found romance on company time and were involved in a relationship with a workmate.
The sectors with the most eligible candidates for love, meanwhile, were considered to be media and marketing due to the glamorous image of both fields and the perception that they are stocked with outgoing personalities. Construction workers were seen as the least attractive option, however, as the industry and its members were perceived to be unstylish.
On a regional basis, the west of England is definitely the place to be in love terms though, with a massive 83% of employees having office romances. London was found to be the opposite.
Alan King, president and managing director of employee assistance programme provider Workplace Options, said: “Employees are together 40+ hours a week and interact constantly. Workplace romances are likely going to develop, but it is the company’s job to establish clear policies that outline what is acceptable and what is not so that there are no perceptions of inequality, favouritism or an imbalance of power.”
But a second study undertaken among 200 UK employers by online employment law specialists, XpertHR, showed that more than two thirds had no workplace relationships policy in place at all and, of those that did, most incorporated it within a broader written policy on conduct or ethics.
A mere one in 10 organisations had a standalone written policy on the subject and only 2% actively banned all affairs between workers, with a further 25% saying that their approach would depend on circumstances. One in four tried to discourage romance, but did not implement active prohibitions, however.
As to the kind of restrictions that were put in place, a third banned relationships between managers and their subordinates. One in six prohibited sexual interaction between employees and customers, while one in seven did not allow affairs between workers on the same team.
When asked to give notification of workplace romances, employees were generally asked to tell HR or their line managers, but when a love situation between co-workers became apparent, employers’ most common response was not to take any action.
If action was taken, however, employees would most likely be asked to have an informal discussion with HR or their line managers, to be given support or to be monitored for any problematic behaviour.
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Cath Everett

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

Read more from Cath Everett

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