Office Romance, Mental Health and Productivity

Many workers hang out at their favorite bar together and many will end up……
Romance at work is a delicate subject but it happens more often than we care to realise. A few people actually meet their spouses at work. 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. But should employers forbid office romance? Doesn’t having an office lover affect your work and the way you do it.

To throw in a little fun – Check out this story from Mistresses the soap opera originally made in the UK before the US decided to copy but made it better (oops!). Siobhan and Dominik were both lawyers working in the same firm. Siobhan was married but wasn’t totally happy since Hari her husband didn’t make “bedtime” enjoyable – his mission was to get her pregnant by all means. There was Dominik who seemed to be crazy about her and gave her too much attention and more. The result? A pregnancy (that she kept) and a divorce. She 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 ugly 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, you might work extra hard so he knows your worth. Office romances are normal and should be acceptable – you can’t stop cupid but employers should have a policy in place that deals with workplace relationships. If you are already romantically involved with a co-worker or thinking of starting, then you need to 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 building.

2. The Bad: Having a crush on or dating someone who works in your office can be real bad. You lack 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. Lack of concentration can also result in errors and accidents. This is bad for your co-workers and company’s finances – you might have to pay dearly for this through loss of your job, a demotion or disciplinary action. 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 Ugly: The truth is most workplace relationships will affect productivity, morale, efficiency and profit. Workplace romance also leaves the door open for sexual harassment, discrimination, health and safety breaches and bad reputation. 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. Do you really want to go through this mess? Dear employers you need a policy in place to handle workplace relationships.

What you should do
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 Twitter or Facebook. If your heart is broken, know now that with time it will heal – try not to have it written all over you, 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 (not every night), have a warm bath and surround yourself with family and friends.

Are you alone this Valentine? Buy yourself a fabulous gift – you deserve it!


This post was written by Professor Ike. Professor Ike is passionate about Health, Safety and Wellbeing. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Science, a Master’s degree in Occupational Health and Safety Management and is studying for a PhD in Organisational Health and Wellbeing. She is the Chief Blogger at

Author: Professor Ike

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