Decrease in office romances

Businessweek suggests that office romances are on the decline because of a confluence of lawsuits and third party discrimination claims, which may be linked to pressures from the current recession. But there are those who argue that such romances are actually good for productivity and for businesses:

A once-amorous workforce already seems to be feeling the effects. This February, 75 percent of U.S. workers surveyed by job search website Monster.com (MWW) believed a workplace relationship could bring a conflict. Sixty-two percent said they felt office romances were a distraction from job performance. Careerbuilder.com’s annual Valentine’s Day romance poll has shown an alarming decline in reported office trysts. In 2006, 50 percent of respondents claimed to have partaken in a workplace relationship during their career. Earlier this year, the number dropped to 37 percent.

This is disturbing news not only for employees but also for their bosses. Some management experts believe that a workplace fling can “greatly increase something called ‘engagement,’ ” says Stephanie Losee, co-author of Office Mate, a guide to finding love in the workplace. “That’s when you’re excited to come in and work and you care about your company.” For these reasons, National Public Radio, Princeton Review (REVU), Pixar (DIS), and Southwest Airlines (LUV) encourage in-house matchmaking. Frederick S. Lane III, author of The Naked Employee, argues that co-worker couples spend more time at work, take fewer sick days, and are less likely to quit.

So if office romance is down due to economic pressures, are people now building romantic relationships elsewhere? Or are people just less likely to pursue romantic relationships when economic instability is present?

Additionally, I don’t envy managers who have to look out for and monitor such relationships. Such situations seem ripe for Michael Scott-type awkwardness.

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