An office romance may seem unprofessional and risky, but as it turns out, many lead to long-term commitments: 37 percent of workers have dated a coworker, and 33 percent of those relationships have led to marriage, according to CareerBuilder’s annual Valentine’s Day survey.
Workplace lovebirds do have some impressive role models to look up to: Barack and Michelle Obama, Bill and Melinda Gates, and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie all met at work.
Some industries are more romantic than others. According to Vault’s 2016 office romance survey the hospitality and tourism industry ranks highest among industries where office romances are most common, with 61% of employees saying they’ve had some kind of workplace relationship. Other industries that are rife with romance according to Vault are consumer products (59%), retail and advertising (both 58%), government (54%), human resources (53%), and technology (51%).
Not so likely to hook up, according to Vault’s survey? Those who work in biotechnology and pharmaceuticals (24%), followed by environment and accounting (both 27%), internet and new media (33%), law (34%), real estate (35%), and manufacturing and education (both 39%).
When is all this hanky panky taking place? According to CareerBuilder’s survey, office romances are most likely to bloom while working late together (12 percent), at happy hour after work (10 percent), by chance meetings outside of work (10 percent), and at lunch (9 percent).
Nearly 1 in 10 workers who have had an office romance (9 percent) claim they fell for their workplace loves at first sight, according to CareerBuilder. First sight or not, what someone does for a living matters when it comes to falling for an office mate: About 1 in 5 employees (22 percent) say what someone does for a living influences whether they would date that person (20 percent of men and 24 percent of women), and 18 percent say they’re attracted to people who have a similar job as them (22 percent of men and 14 percent of women).
Are office romances always wrong? It seems many workers aren’t sure if they are breaking the rules or not: More than 2 in 5 employees (45 percent) don’t know whether their company has a dating policy in place. One thing that is definitely risky is dating a superior, but it’s not uncommon, according to CareerBuilder. Of those who have had an office romance, nearly 1 in 4 (23 percent) have dated someone in a higher position than them — a more common occurrence for women than men (26 percent versus 20 percent). And as if dating a superior wasn’t risky enough, 17 percent of office romances involved at least one person who was married at the time.
To keep it professional, or at least to keep from getting caught, some are keeping their affairs hush-hush. One third of workers who have had an office romance (33 percent) had to keep their relationship a secret at work. That can be easier said than done: More than one 1 in 4 workers who have had an office romance (27 percent) have run into co-workers while out with their office sweetheart. Of those that got busted, 10 percent pretended they weren’t dating, while 17 percent admitted to it, according to CareerBuilder.
Even the most secretive of office romances may not be so secret after all: 65 percent of employees say they’re confident they know the relationship status of everyone in their office, according to CareerBuilder.
The Obamas and the Gates notwithstanding, CareerBuilder’s survey revealed that not all workplace relationships end happily ever after – and some result in more than heartbreak: 5 percent of workers who have had an office romance say they have left a job because of an office relationship gone sour. There is another option though: To keep a meaningful relationship at work without the risky romantic spark, nearly 1 in 10 (8 percent) employees play it safe and have a platonic office spouse.