Urge To Merge – Workplace Dating

Increasingly employers frown on fraternization between coworkers, and include specific references and the consequences to such behavior in their employee manuals.  More and more employers just don’t want to deal with the potential sexual harassment issues that can erupt when relationships between coworkers don’t work out.
Despite the good intentions of employees, sometimes what starts out innocently can become a tangled web of accusations, denials, bad feelings, disruptive behavior, and lawsuits. The Hollywood image of the office romance is ostensibly a thing of the past.  So more and more employee manuals state that dating between coworkers is not acceptable.
Sure, two employees from the same firm can take their chances and pursue a relationship outside the office, and risk being found out.  Even when the employees work in different departments or on different floors in the same company, the potential for discovery may add an air of mystery to the relationship, but could land one or both parties out of a job.
Some managers may tolerate coworker dating, taking a blind-eye to the situation when they find out.  But ignoring the rules, and these circumstances, has backfired on more than a few managers and employees.  If the relationship sours, it opens up the company and individual managers to assertions of tolerating – even condoning – inappropriate behavior.  I knew a couple that worked for a large corporation with a “no coworker dating” policy that pursued a relationship.  Their general manager knew of their dating but said and did nothing. The relationship continued to grow, the couple got married, and upon returning from their honeymoon, they were both fired, and so was their manager.
Because we spend a third or more of our daily life working, meeting a potential partner outside the office can be quite difficult, and time consuming, especially if you’re not into the bar or club scene, or don’t want to use internet matching services or classifieds.  For others, going to singles events through churches, synagogues or community centers can also be uncomfortable.  That leaves the workplace perceived as a viable option for finding companionship.
In the workplace, you could meet someone with whom you share common interests and goals.  And getting to know someone through close-knit same-employment circles can allow you to determine over time if someone of interest is compatible with you.  At work you’ll witness the person’s behavior, communication styles, how they handle stress, learn their likes and dislikes.  Simple casual office banter and daily contact can frequently reveal tastes and interests in culture, music, clothing, etc, that potentially fuel one’s interest in another.
I’m not saying you should or shouldn’t date your coworkers.  I am saying that if you do pursue an office romance, be careful!  Be aware of your company’s policy on coworker dating, and no matter what the company’s policy, be discreet.  Minimize in-office public displays of affection and other distracting behavior; don’t discuss your interest in dating a coworker with your office mates, and don’t malign the former object of your affection if the relationship doesn’t work out!
At work, you may feel the urge to merge, just avoid being tactless and disrespectful. Or you could wind up without a date, and without a job!
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