WORKPLACE / MAY. 27, 2014
version 18, draft 18

Hot Topic: Workplace Affairs!

We cannot presume to know what happens within the marriages and relationships of the people we work with. In fact, a recent study has found that it is best to steer clear from getting involved or exposing office affairs that may leave you in a vulnerable position of employment. There is mostly likely nothing to be gained by interfering in someone’s affair in the workplace; however, it is likely to leave you in a targeted position by other co-workers or even the objective of revenge from those ‘involved’.

Workplace affairs have become the norm…

Albeit dangerous, it does happen. SnagAJob.com, an employment agency for hourly workers, discovered in an online poll with 800 US applicants:

  • 72% of men and 60% of women are infatuated with a co-worker
  • Most (64%) intend to keep it a secret.
  • Men are more likely than women to reveal their feelings (40%)
  • 34% of women say they might spill the beans

In a similar find, the Harris poll was also conducted within the United States to compare regions with regards to flirting:

  • People flirt more with their colleagues (45% in the North, versus 37% in the South, 34% in the Northeast, and just 32% in the Midwest),
  • These same people are more inclined to date a co-worker on the sly (23% of Westerners say they’ve done this, versus 15% in the Northeast, Midwest, and South).

How to Spot a Workplace Affair

While it is important to avoid office based affairs, it is also helpful to know how to spot when one is happening. A related article explains important aspects to consider:

  • Coworkers who may be doing more than just enjoying each other’s company are often seen speaking privately for extended intervals
  • Car sharing is also a point to consider
  • In some cases it may be apparent that they are avoiding each other
  • Flirting openly without intent (they may have been so accustomed to their time together they display this unintentionally throughout the office)
  • When both colleagues have little reason to work overtime, one member may be reducing daily productivity in order to remain behind with the other
  • Private meetings between the two scheduling unused rooms for unnecessary presentations
  • When days of leave are coincidental and/or consecutive. Both taking the first Monday of the month to enjoy longer weekends

With relation to the points above, these are of a speculative nature and aimed to be used as a guideline for consideration only.

No shame in workplace affairs…

The Daily Mail reported that a staggering 1 in 4 workers ‘gets romantically involved’ with a co-worker at some point during their career. This is a shocking statistic and one that supports the notion that workplace romances are much less taboo these days.

In another study (published by Monster) it was found that an increasing number of office co-workers admit to using their work emails to flirt and send private messages. Workers should note that in most cases, work email addresses are owned by the company they work for and as such, the employer has access to all emails sent (without requesting prior consent from the sender)!

While it is clear that workplace romances are commonplace, it is still a topic of debate as to whether one should intervene as a co-worker. The Telegraph raised a series of questions/answer’s relating to this topic in a release this week with the primary question posed to a group of respondents:

A married colleague is openly having an affair with a client but still insists on bringing his wife to all the work dos. Everyone knows he’s unfaithful, which I think is awful. Should I send her an anonymous note informing her of her husband’s infidelity?”

The general consensus found that in intervening with an anonymous note, the individual would then become a ‘player in the game’, and therefore on the side opposing their colleague. A dangerous place to be. It is considered that it is best all-round to ignore office affairs.

This leads us to draw to the conclusion that by exposing an office affair effectively leaves the fate of your career in someone else’s hands, and this is somewhat of a major gamble! You are dabbling with your finances, reputation and career references for the sake of taking the morale high-ground. Lesson here – steer clear of workplace affairs!

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