Should company have morality contracts forbidding romance at work?
No company wants to have to deal with unnecessary and avoidable costs of situations such as sexual harassment, discrimination, health and safety or unfair dismissal claims against the organisation. As well as costing a fortune these actions can harm the reputation of the business and have an impact on the productivity of the staff.
Two surveys were conducted in October 2012, asking individuals and business owners to answer questions relating to the effect of Office Romances on careers and impact on businesses.
More than a thousand individuals responded to the ‘Are Office Romances a good idea’ survey and over 200 businesses to the ‘impact of office romances on UK Businesses’ survey.
Individuals, when asked if they had ever engaged in an office romance.
— 75 per cent of respondents have at least considered it.
— 54 per cent have engaged in at least one office romance.
— 27 per cent have engaged in an office romance more than once.
When asked if their employers had a contractual morality clause forbidding office relationships.
— Six per cent stated that their employer had it as part of the terms and conditions of their employment.
— 35 per cent stated that their employer did not mind at all.
— They were then asked if they felt office-based romances can impact on one’s productivity at work.
— 16 per cent answered ‘Not at all’
— 84 per cent felt that it would impact productivity at least a little. (38 per cent said it definitely would)
In regards to disciplinary actions related to office romances. 20 per cent of respondents claim that they or a colleague have been disciplined for having a work-place romance.
Businesses taking part in the ‘Impact of Office Romances on UK Businesses’ survey revealed the following:
— 74 per cent of businesses have no formal or informal policy to discourage staff from engaging in office relationships
Only 16 per cent of businesses said that office-based romances had no effect on productivity within their organisation. 48 per cent stated that it would only have minimal impact.
Only 19 per cent of businesses stated that an office-based romance would in no way affect the career prospects of those involved.
— 32 per cent of businesses would consider (or already have) a morality clause in its employment contracts to forbid office romances.
— 51 per cent of businesses felt recommending employees seek romance outside of their place of work would save them money and improve productivity.
In the last 12 months, the average cost to each business from issues relating to office romances was over £65,000. So the total cost to the 200 companies surveyed was in excess of £13 million.
It is interesting then that the majority of businesses acknowledge that office romances can have a negative impact on productivity but over half feel that it is minimal, in contrast to 84 per cent of individuals who stated that it would affect productivity at least a little.
A spokesperson for NotAtWork.co.uk, said “These are some shocking statistics and we have barely scratched the surface. You will never stop people from developing romantic feelings towards their co-workers which can often lead to a full blown affair. However we offer a discreet and safe online dating platform for those seeking extra marital romances, allowing workers to focus their attention on their work in their work place. ”
Office romances are literally costing UK businesses millions and perhaps too many businesses fail to recognise the magnitude of the impact it has on their organisation. Although a morality clause within an employment contract would seem too drastic an action for many employers, encouraging employees to seek romances outside of work by promoting the use of online dating sites as well as making employees aware of the long term effects an office romance could have on their career can be a more effective and less draconian strategy in refocusing their employees and avoiding costly HR issues.