The office romance is far from dead, even as workplace relationships come under increasing pressure in the #MeToo era.
More than a quarter (27%) of U.S. employees have had a workplace romance with a colleague, according to report released ahead of Valentine's Day by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
The report, which was conducted in collaboration with the University of Chicago's AmeriSpeak Panel, surveyed 696 U.S. employees to understand their collegiate relationships and workplace dynamics.
Of those who had an office fling, 27% said it was with their boss or a higher up. Meanwhile 20% said their relationship was with a subordinate or someone lower in their organization.
Just over half (53%) said their workplace dalliance was with a co-worker at their level.
Johnny Taylor, president and CEO of SHRM, said the findings highlight the continued ubiquity of workplace romances despite heightened public scrutiny following a litany of high-profile sexual misconduct cases.
However, he noted that employers should ensure they have policies in place to support staff.
"Employers simply can't forbid the reality of romance within the workplace," said Taylor. "Instead, they should reflect on their culture and ensure their approach is current, realistic, and balanced in ways that protect employees while leaving them free to romance responsibly."
This year's findings were little changed from last year. However, SHRM's 2020 report provided greater granularity.
It also found, for instance, that a quarter of U.S. workers have a so-called "work spouse" — and more than half of those said they feel romantic feelings toward them. Notably, that tendency was 20% higher among men, the report found.
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