This post was first published 3 years ago on 14th February, 2015 as Office Romance, Mental Health and Productivity. 3 years later, I have revamped and republished it with more information, updated title and more oomph! Happy reading!
Valentine’s day has fallen upon us again. Every year, we are somehow forced to celebrate it. Many of us met our lovers, partners and spouses through friends, by chance and even at work.
Romance at work is a delicate yet very common occurrence that happens more often than we care to realise. Some have had their marriages broken as a result of an office affair. Some have had their hearts broken by the office hottie and many are contemplating dating someone at work.
As adults, we really are free to do whatever we like but doesn’t having an office lover affect our work and the way we do it? Shouldn’t employers forbid office romance?
Permit me to throw in a little fun
Check out this story from Mistresses the soap opera originally made in the UK many years ago before the US decided to copy but made it better (oops!). It was once one of my favourite soaps.
Siobhan and Dominik were both lawyers working in the same law firm. Siobhan was married but wasn’t really happy since Hari her husband didn’t make “bedtime” enjoyable – his mission was to get her pregnant by all means. Whether she enjoyed the process or not was not his problem. Just get pregnant! She never did. At least not for him.
There was Dominik who seemed to be crazy about her and gave her way too much attention and more. The result? A pregnancy (that she kept) and of course an inevitable divorce.
Siobhan did eventually end up with Dominik but not without some trouble and heartaches on the way. Yes this happened on TV but it does happen in real life.
You may ask, what’s the relevance of this and how does it impact my work and workplace?
Sorry to be the harbinger of bad news. Yes it is relevant and yes it could have an adverse effect on you and your work. Let me tell you why by looking at the good, the bad and the not so pretty of office relationships.
1. The Good:
Love is good. Even better when it results in marriage and babies. When you have a crush on someone and he or she is “crushing” back then there isn’t much to worry about. Sometimes love gives you the high to get your job done better than you always have.
If your lover is your boss and you have good work ethics, you might work extra hard. He must know you are worth more than your bed skills.😉
Office romances are normal and should be acceptable – after all, you can’t stop cupid but employers should ideally have a policy or rules in place that deals with workplace relationships. For example, some do not permit spouses to work in the same team or department. Too risky. In terms of productivity and sometimes to reduce the chances of them pulling off a scam or fraudulent act together.
2. The Bad:
Having a crush on or dating someone who works in your office can also be real bad.
The most common thing that usually takes place is you tend to lose concentration; your morale might be up but it may not be reflected in your output as you spend most of your time daydreaming about your lover and how you sneaked off the yesterday during lunch time to do God knows what and nobody caught you.
Lack of concentration can also result in errors and accidents. This is bad for your co-workers as you are putting yourself and others at risk.
Your company’s finances might suffer due to lack of productivity and accidents and you might have to pay dearly for this through loss of your job, a demotion or disciplinary actions taken against you. Your lover might offer his or her shoulder for you to cry on but they won’t be serving out your punishment for you.
As much as some who date the boss might put in extra effort, dating the boss could also be an excuse to slack on your duties. Don’t make this mistake, your boss also answers to someone especially if he is not the owner of the company. Failing to do your job could result in you getting dumped. Then heartache. Then mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and sleeplessness. Then possibly drugs and alcohol that doesn’t make you feel better. Then you hate your life and your job.
3. The Not so Pretty:
The truth is most workplace relationships will affect productivity, morale, efficiency and profit.
Workplace romance could also leave the door open for sexual harassment and resulting law suits, discrimination, health and safety breaches and bad reputation for you and even the business if word gets out that that is the normal practice in your company.
If someone loses their job as a result of an office romance, they could put in a claim for unfair dismissal if you don’t have a policy or clause to deal with workplace relationships.
I’m already involved with someone at work, what do I do to make sure I don’t mess up my job?
Did i just hear you ask that? 😬
Well, if you are already romantically involved with a co-worker or thinking of starting, then you need to seriously control yourself (you know what I mean), maintain professionalism and be as productive as you were before you fell in love.
There should be no public displays of affection (popularly called PDA 😉) – I shudder at the thought of coworkers kissing and holding hands🙄. Your co-workers will be uncomfortable seeing you act this way, you might even lose their respect. Please leave PDAs for when you get out of the office building and have walked a few yards away from the office building.
Developing feelings for people you spend more than a third of your life with is inevitable. It is normal but knowing how to stay professional and having your dates and quality time outside office hours and walls is essential.
Never spend office hours dealing with romance issues or making out in the store – someone’s life could depend on you at that particular time.
When there is a break up, please deal with it privately, not in the office and definitely not on Instagram or Facebook.
If your heart is broken, know now that with time it will heal – try not to have it written all over you (as hard as that can be), still look fabulous or the best you can, stay focused on your job, give yourself a treat or have a jar of ice-cream when you get home (to prevent weight gain try not to do this every night), have a warm bath and surround yourself with family and friends.
You can also join the gym and get deeply involved in the classes – they help take your mind off your worries.
Are you alone this Valentine? Buy yourself a fabulous gift – you deserve it! Check out this post for awesome gift ideas designed to give you a mental health boost!
Happy Valentine’s Day!