New SHRM Survey: The Rise of Workplace Romance

SHRM Research Finds Half of U.S. Workers Have Crushed on a Colleague

February 7, 2022
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ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The COVID-19 pandemic saw a rise in workplace romances that has remained steady over the past year. A new survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), found that a third of U.S. workers (33 percent) report that they're currently involved or have been involved in a workplace romance—6 percentage points higher than before the COVID-19 pandemic (27 percent).

With 50 percent of workers reporting they've had a crush on a coworker, workplace romances aren't an anomaly. In fact, three-quarters of U.S. workers (75 percent) say they're comfortable with people at their workplace being involved in a workplace romance, and more than a quarter of U.S. workers (26 percent) are currently open to being involved in a workplace romance.

Other key findings include:

  • Of U.S. workers currently in a workplace romance or who have been in one before, more than a quarter (26 percent) either began a new workplace romance during the COVID-19 pandemic or have continued an existing workplace romance that began prior to the pandemic.
  • 65 percent of U.S. workers who are in or have been involved in a workplace romance dated their peers, while 12 percent dated their subordinates and 19 percent dated their superiors.
  • 28 percent of U.S. workers have or had someone they consider their "work spouse," and of these workers, 26 percent have felt romantic feelings toward this individual.

"As the pandemic continues to keep many of us apart, it's no surprise that workers are looking for connection amongst their colleagues—remotely or otherwise," said Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, SHRM president and chief executive officer. "But if workers are finding romance in the workplace, it's key that employers have a workplace romance policy in place to prevent harmful situations should relationships go awry."

The survey also found that 77 percent of U.S. workers say their employer doesn't require them to disclose a workplace romance, and a majority of workers (77 percent) who have been in a workplace romance have not disclosed their relationship to their employer.

"It is the responsibility of HR professionals to protect employees in these situations, be it from favoritism, retaliation or sexual harassment," Taylor added. "It's important to encourage transparency and professionalism while providing information on acceptable and unacceptable conduct, including instructions on when relationships need to be reported and to whom."

Methodology: A sample of 550 working Americans was surveyed using the Amerispeak Omnibus, NORC at the University of Chicago's probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. household population. For the purposes of this survey, we refer to this group as "U.S. workers." The survey was administered from January 13, 2022, to January 18, 2022. All data was weighted to reflect the U.S. adult population.

About SHRM

SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, creates better workplaces where employers and employees thrive together. As the voice of all things work, workers and the workplace, SHRM is the foremost expert, convener and thought leader on issues impacting today's evolving workplaces. With 300,000+ HR and business executive members in 165 countries, SHRM impacts the lives of more than 115 million workers and families globally. Learn more at SHRM.org and on Twitter @SHRM.

 


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