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When Cupid Strikes: Young Employees More Likely to Date Coworkers

Feb. 10, 2012
With Valentine's Day fast approaching, love is in the air and Cupid is poised to strike – even in the office. Young workers in particular should be on the lookout for Cupid's arrows: According to new poll results, Generation Y employees are more open to workplace romances than their older coworkers.

Office relationships can be a thorny issue. Employees who couple up might risk damaged reputations, distractions, office gossip or even sexual harassment accusations. Many savvy workers therefore keep their love lives and their work lives separate. But younger workers – Generation Y or Millennials, who range in age from 18 to 29 – are more likely to consider workplace romance a bed of roses.

According to the poll results, 71 percent of these young workers view workplace relationships as leading to benefits such as improved performance and morale. Forty percent of Gen Y workers reported no negative effects from office romances, compared to only 10 percent of older workers.

Additionally, a whopping 84 percent of Gen Y workers said they would enter into a romantic relationship with a coworker, compared to only 36 percent of Generation X workers (age 30-45) and 29 percent of baby boomers (age 46-65). Furthermore, more than half of Gen Y employees said that if they had a relationship with coworkers, they would share that information with friends, other coworkers or their social networks.

What's Your Policy on Love?

The poll also revealed that a third of young workers (34 percent) did not know if their companies had policies in place to govern workplace romances.

"Human beings are going to interact and these relationships are going to happen, but it is essential that companies have clear policies in place that outline what is acceptable and what is not so that there are no perceptions of inequality, favoritism or an imbalance of power," said Dean Debnam, CEO of Workplace Options.

To further complicate matters, 40 percent of Gen Y workers also are open to dating their supervisors – that's more than all other age groups combined.

"Regardless of the culture or industry of any given company, clear communication about personal relationships among co-workers is vital. Employees must be made aware of where the boundaries are so that things that occur on personal time don't become a distraction or a source of conflict in the workplace," Debnam concluded.

In other words, Cupid's already in your workplace. You just need a sensible policy to make sure his arrows don't bring down the whole office.

The national survey was conducted by Public Policy Polling in January. View the full results as a PDF here.

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