Australian working women can forget about Tinder and e-harmony and go to work instead, because that's where the sparks are flying. Over one third (38%) of Aussie women claim to have had a fling at work, and an astounding two thirds of these women (66%) successfully turned their fling turn into a relationship, reveals research conducted by The Heat Group, the largest Australian-owned personal care company.
The survey shows that across the board, Aussie women believe it is possible to find long-lasting love in the office (79%), and that women find work romances perfectly acceptable in this day and age (82%). Flirting in the office is very common, with a third (33%) admitting to flirting at work to get what they want, however most women draw the line at sleeping with the boss with 81% claiming it remains a big -no no'.
According to the survey, office love is abundant. Women are most likely to have met a significant other through friends (61%), however the workplace comes in third (32%). Over one in four women (26%) claim they know of at least one office romance being carried out in their current workplace, but with Aussie woman saying they would wait at least 6 months before divulging the relationship to work colleagues (73%), the true incidence rate may be much higher.
'Looking for love at work is no longer considered taboo, but whether it is good for business is yet to be seen, " says Gillian Franklin, Managing Director of The Heat Group. 'The majority (62%) stated they have increased the effort they put into their appearance and personal presentation in order to impress a love interest at work, and employees who take care in their appearance are generally going to make better impressions in work relationships as well. Importantly, of those who would consider having a relationship at work, 60% believed neither partner should have to leave the company, should the relationship become serious."
Question: Are you surprised that 'over one third of Aussie women claim to have had a fling in the workplace"?
Gillian Franklin: Not at all, in fact I think it is completely understandable given that the average working woman spends most of her waking hours in the office. We're all only human after all! Also, the fact that you are working together would imply you at least have a common interest and are most likely to share the same culture and values which are important in a relationship.
Question: What are the difficulties surrounding workplace romance?
Gillian Franklin: It is easy to imagine how a bad break-up could make things tense in the office. Especially because it is often worse for one person in the relationship than the other. Combine this with the fact that you still need to work together, and probably pretend like you were never together in the first place…it can get messy.
Question: Are their positives to workplace romance?
Gillian Franklin: Absolutely! Of course, there are the warm and mushy benefits of being in love. People are happier and more fulfilled if they are in a loving relationship, and this happiness and contentment generally makes for more productive employees.
An additional benefit is that, according to our research, women who are interested in finding love at work will often put more effort into their appearance and presentation. This is important because many studies have shown that if you dress for the job you want, you're more likely to get it. If you're putting more effort in, you're likely to make a better impression and actually get ahead faster in your career.
Question: Do you believe it is possible to find long-lasting love in the office?
Gillian Franklin: Yes, because I have heard of many examples anecdotally, and I know of at least one example from our own office where two people met, fell in love, got married and are building a life together. There is no reason why you couldn't. In fact, people who work together have, by default, more things in common than people who don't work together, so you're off to a great start already!
Question: Can you provide an employer's perspective on canoodling in the workplace?
Gillian Franklin: From my perspective it is important that professionalism always comes first in the workplace. I would prefer that the canoodling is done in private.
Question: Is there proper protocol for workplace relationships?
Gillian Franklin: I am sure that some workplaces may include some kind of provision in their standard employment contract. At my company The Heat Group we take more of a -common sense' approach, so we expect our employees to act professionally, not let it interfere with their work, and have respect and consideration for their colleagues.
Question: Do you have tips for going public with a workplace relationship?
Gillian Franklin: If you think you can only tell one or two people in the office and nobody else needs to find out, you're kidding yourselves. There is nothing juicier than an office fling. Trust nobody! But if you're ready for everyone to know, and are prepared for the fall-out if the relationship doesn't last, then go for it. Maybe speak to the HR department for guidance first and then speak with your respective managers before sharing with the general office.
Question: Is there a certain amount of time that we should wait before going public with a workplace relationship?
Gillian Franklin: Our results said that most people wanted to wait 6 months, but there is nothing that says you should wait for any set period. Go with your gut.
Question: What are the tell-tale signs of an office romance?
Gillian Franklin: There are plenty, but I'd rather not give away my trade secrets as to how I usually can tell. Just put it down as a combination of intuition and experience. History has shown that I can usually pick it up pretty quickly – my staff are often very impressed that I figure it out!
Question: What are your top tips for dealing with a workplace relationship that just hasn't worked out?
Gillian Franklin: If (and only if) both the people love their job and want to make it work, then I would be hoping that they have the maturity to not let their relationship interfere in their work. This is complicated if they are required to work closely together, or if the relationship was serious, or if one person has come off much worse than the other. In larger organisations, one may be able to request to transfer to another department, which may make things easier, but in general, when feelings are involved, it is going to be tough.
Interview by Brooke Hunter