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Younger generation of employees is more open to office romances

We have previously written that office romances can be tricky territory; so tricky, in fact, that many human resources professionals would say that the risks nearly always outweigh the potential benefits. For instance, what happens if the couple breaks up or the relationship sours?

The higher-ranking member of the couple and/or the company could find themselves facing a sexual harassment lawsuit. While older employees may shy away from office romances, younger workers in Florida and across the nation feel differently, according to a new survey.

A recent poll of 556 working Americans revealed that "millennials" (workers aged 18-29) have a much more positive attitude about office dating than their older colleagues.

According to the survey, 71 percent of workers in this age group say that an office romance could be beneficial. About 40 percent of millennials say they have not experienced any negative effects from an office romance.

Attitudes are very different among older workers. When asked if they would ever engage in an office romance:

  • 29 percent of Baby Boomers (age 46-65) said "yes"
  • 36 percent of Generation-X employees (age 30-45) said "yes"
  • 84 percent of millennials answered "yes"

It also appears that millennials have fewer qualms about dating colleagues who outrank them. About 40 percent would be willing to date their supervisor. Among other age groups, that number was just 12 percent.

Of course, this scenario is usually among the riskiest when it comes to office relationships. Many accusations of wrongful termination, sexual harassment or other illegal employment actions have been sparked by relationships between managers and lower-ranking employees.

For better or worse, it seems that office dating is going to continue to happen. Therefore, employment professionals urge us all to be careful.

The CEO of one of the organizations sponsoring the survey said: "Regardless of the culture or industry of any given company, clear communication about personal relationships among co-workers is vital. Employees must be made aware of where the boundaries are so that things that occur on personal time don't become a distraction or a source of conflict in the workplace."

Source: WorkplaceOptions.com, "Millennials More Likely to be Smitten with Superiors, Co-Workers," press release, Feb. 8, 2012

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