What do Jim Halpert and Pam Beesley from The Office, Don Draper and Megan from Mad Men and even President Obama and Michelle all have in common?
They all met their significant others at work.
If these power couples can make an office romance work, why can’t we? Thirty years ago, people might have said that it was a bad thing, but it’s time to to accept and embrace the reality that romantic relationships will happen in the workplace. According to a 2012 CareerBuilder survey, 38 percent of workers have dated a coworker at least once, and 31 percent said their office romance led them to the altar.
With statistics like these, we need to focus on the positive effects of a workplace romance rather than pretending it won’t happen.
Here are four benefits of office love:
1. Increased Employee Longevity
Having a spouse, partner or romantic interest at work can increase retention. Seeing your significant other at the office can provide motivation to get excited about work each day, not to mention greater health benefits, perks and maybe even a double-down in stock options.
And managers: don’t try to prevent workplace love or separate colleagues who are together. Remember that if you respect their relationship, you could keep them around for a long time. Love can conquer all, and employees who date may look for new jobs if they can’t be together at your company.
2. Enriched Relationships
Dating colleagues can provide another avenue in which employees can find meaningful connections with each other. For employees who are in a workplace romance: open the lines of communication with your supervisors sooner rather than later. Ask, “What’s your perspective on office romance, and how can we best handle this situation?”
Also, be honest when colleagues ask if the rumors are true. Don’t go overboard and divulge intimate details about your relationship, but sharing weekend plans or anniversaries can build trust and forge deeper connections with coworkers.
3. Productivity Boost
We tend to talk about work at home, so when two people work at the same company, the conversations naturally increase, and there’s simply more time spent brainstorming outside of normal business hours.
We also can’t ignore the feeling of euphoria that comes with a new relationship, which can result in a boost in morale and creativity at work.
4. Positive Culture
Organizations that enable employees to handle themselves and others with respect and compassion experience higher employee morale, more trust and deeper connections. And, of course, love is sweet. Organizations can get an instant boost of positivity with coworkers walking on air, spreading the warm fuzzy feeling throughout the office.
Workplace romance is a fact of life in business. And it doesn’t show any sign of slowing down. In a survey conducted by Workplace Options, 84 percent of Millennials say they would engage in a romantic relationship with a coworker.
So, if you haven’t met “The One” and are feeling down on love, look no further than the next cubicle. Jim and Pam have given us hope.
Halley Bock is the CEO of Fierce Inc., a leadership development and training company that drives results for businesses by improving workplace communication.