Millennials More Likely to be Smitten with Superiors, Co-Workers

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Raleigh, N.C., February 8, 2012 – Distractions, damaged reputations, sexual harassment accusations. These potential scenarios are some of the reasons why most employers tend to be wary of office romances. However, a new Workplace Options and Public Policy Polling survey of American workers shows that for millennials, workplace relationships are nothing to shy away from. The poll results, released today by Workplace Options, a leading global provider of work-life programs and employee benefits, show that 71 percent of employed millennials (aged 18-29) see a workplace romance as having positive effects such as improved performance and morale. But opinions about inter-office romances differ widely across generations. While 40 percent of millennials report no negative effects whatsoever from an office romance, only 10 percent of older workers shared that sentiment, meaning the majority of employed Americans feel more harm could be done than good. Poll results show that:

  • 84 percent of millennials say they would engage in romance with a co-worker – compared to 36 percent of Generation X workers (age 30-45), and only 29 percent of Boomers (age 46-65).
  • Overall, 47 percent of respondents reported that they had observed romantic relationships in the workplace.
  • And 57 percent said that if they had a romantic relationship with a colleague, they would share information about it with others – either friends, co-workers or via social networks.

“One of the most interesting pieces of information that came from this survey was that 34 percent of workers said they didn’t know if their company had policies governing romantic relationships in the workplace,” said Dean Debnam, chief executive officer of Workplace Options. “Human beings are going to interact and these relationships are going to happen, but it is essential that companies have clear policies in place that outline what is acceptable and what is not so that there are no perceptions of inequality, favoritism or an imbalance of power.” Poll results indicate that, as a group, the millennial generation is more open to dating their supervisors than all other age groups combined. Forty percent of millennials said they would date their supervisor, compared to 12 percent of older respondents. Relationships between co-workers of similar stature are one thing, but relationships between supervisors and direct reports can be dangerous,” added Debnam. “Regardless of the culture or industry of any given company, clear communication about personal relationships among co-workers is vital. Employees must be made aware of where the boundaries are so that things that occur on personal time don’t become a distraction or a source of conflict in the workplace.”

The national survey was conducted by the North Carolina firm Public Policy Polling, January 13-16, 2012. The survey polled 556 working Americans and has a margin of error of +/- 4.2%.

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