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The workplace has always been about more than just work. The statistics prove it: almost a quarter of Americans met their spouse through their job and more than half of employees have had an office romance. In the past couple of decades, though, the of couples who meet through work has dropped fast. With more and more work happening remotely, employee dating is likely to become even less common. For HR leaders, this will sound a lot like good news.


Should you date a coworker? If you still want to move forward, research shows that your intentions matter. Many companies prohibit employees from dating coworkers, vendors, customers, or suppliers, or require specific disclosures, so be sure to investigate before you start a relationship. Lots of people meet their partners at workand yet dating someone in the office is often frowned upon.

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Some companies even have explicit policies against it. So what if you and a colleague have been flirting and might want to explore a relationship? Should you steer clear?

Dating a coworker: hr policy best practices for office romances

What the Experts Say There are perfectly good reasons why coworkers fall for one anothersays Art Markman, a professor of psychology and marketing at the University of Texas at Austin. Research shows that we also tend to fall for people who are similar to ourselves, says Amy Nicole Baker, an associate professor of psychology at University of New Haven and author of several papers on workplace romance.

Here are some things to think about. There are also potential conflicts of interest.

Does your company need an employee dating policy?

There are also reputational risks. So, before you jump in, check your motives and consider how others will perceive them. Having positive intentions at the start may also help guard against hurt feelings and misunderstandings should the romance eventually end. Both experts acknowledge that boss-employee romances do happen — and sometimes those relationships work out.

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Keep your disclosure simple and straightforward. Make sure that your manager is one of the first to be informed.

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They may prefer you not work together. You also want to set up boundaries with your partner. Case Study 1: Always keep it professional Heather Townsend and her colleague, Alex, were both working at one of the Big Four ing firms when they became interested in one another.

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But they were hesitant about getting romantically involved. Heather told one friend at work that she was dating Alex, but they waited a few months before disclosing their status to HR. Eventually, though, they were upfront with HR in part because they were at different levels of the organization and wanted to do it before any conflicts of interest arose.

What should we do? Once they had that support, Heather told her boss and a few other colleagues.

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We kept working hard and rose above it. We would go out for coffee, but we always met by the elevator.

Policies about workplace dating

Heather left the company about nine months into their relationship for unrelated reasons, and she and Alex wed several years later. While they no longer work together, they are still happily married. After getting to know one another over several months, the two women started dating. I thought it would look really bad to my team if they knew I was dating someone who was at the same level as them. They chose to keep their relationship a secret.

Employee relationships in the workplace policy

It felt like going back in the closet. They dated for close to a year and were able to keep the secret that whole time.

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Becca feels like the secrecy ultimately broke them up. While Becca and Meryl remain friends, Becca says that the whole experience has made her want to steer clear from having another relationship at work.

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We sort of stumbled into the relationship. But when it got more serious they felt like it was too late. Eventually, however, the relationship fizzled and the pair broke up.

Does your company have a dating policy?

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Subscribe for unlimited access. Business communication. Many people meet their partners at work — but proceed carefully. on Business communication.

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She writes and speaks about workplace dynamics. Watch her TEDx talk on conflict and follow her on Twitter. Partner Center.

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Every company needs to consider a policy on workplace dating.


Add or delete parts to communicate applicable rules regarding romantic relationships in the workplace and preserve harmony and fairness among all employees.


Puja is nearly at the year mark in her career as a B2B and B2C content writer and editor.


Workplace romances tend to be the stuff of legend — either because a department or entire company got dragged into the drama, or the couple lives happily ever after.