Eating on the Toilet: The Growing Leniency of Dating in the Workplace

For anyone who works anywhere, we all know that pursuing a romantic (or casually promiscuous) relationship within the same work space is usually highly discouraged and in most cases prohibited in company policy.  However it doesn’t help that we spend most of our days and waking hours around the same coworkers.  Human nature somehow permeates and we do what we do best: get busy.

Although this practice has always been frowned upon on multiple levels, there seems to be a recent shift in attitudes, in a more shameless direction

I began working at a call center for IT support, and I cannot say for whom.  Regardless, this place was like many other call centers, messy with its corporate organization and interpersonal relationships.  The ages ranged from 18-65, but many of my peers were my peers, around my age with a margin of 5 years.

Corporate romances pose many threats:

  • Employees are distracted and less productive
  • Sexual Harassment charges are likely to increase
  • Company favoritism (real and perceptual) has room to breed

All of these were apparent at my job.  Every third person was involved with somebody at this company, and goodness was the gossip thick!

I had a coworker, who we’ll call Dory, who  was in a group with me on the first day of training orientation, just another new girl but a few years my junior.  As the months went by, she became a trainer herself.  I also assisted lightly with this new training group.  I witnessed her growing interest in a boy in her class, we’ll call him Mark, and once he graduated orientation they were always sitting next to each other.  They didn’t care to hide it.   Mark would flagrantly flirt with Dory and ask her about her plans for the night.

I approached Dory one day and asked her politely if they were actually dating, and she excitedly nodded her head and said, “Yeah!”

The words came out of my mouth before I could even think about stopping them.

“Why would you sh*t where you eat?”

She gave me the most dazed and confused look.  As if the question itself was incredibly asinine.  As if I should easily understand why she’s dating Mark so openly.  Dory didn’t answer, just shrugged me off like a teenager.

Just like many shifts happening in this time, the blame is placed on millennials.  But this isn’t another “cry millennials” case either.  Rather, there is statistical backing to it.

In 2012, The Huffington Post reported a survey on workers between the ages of 18-29.  84% of participants admitted they would have a romantic relationship with one of their coworkers.  Only 36% of GenX and 29% of Baby Boomers shared that sentiment.

In 2014, Forbes reported that 71% of people involved in corporate relationships don’t put much effort into hiding it.

So free thinking millennials are pushing boundaries once again.  Of course they may be engaging in relationships with older generations, which spreads the attitude shift across the board, slowly but surely.  They are actively making the case for this type of relationship as well.  We spend most of our time with our coworkers, in a work force where we predominately start off single, and a good 31% of workplace relationships end up at the alter.  Finding your spouse at the same place you find your check may not be the worst thing.

But is it really worth the corporate risks? The potential drama that can push through your home and work life?

For me, personally, no it is not.  But you can’t help who you fall for I suppose.

Also, does this shift in attitude have the potential to shift corporate policies in the future?

Well only time will tell…and it may be sooner than one assumes…with the growing support and engagement and all….

 

 

References:

http://brandongaille.com/19-unbelievable-workplace-romance-statistics/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/09/office-romances-on-the-rise-among-millennial-employees_n_1412190.html

http://www.forbes.com/sites/peggydrexler/2014/04/07/the-truth-about-office-romance/#63d5d4a4413c

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