The number of romances at work hasn't increased much in recent years, but seriously,” said Evren Esen, manager of SHRM's Survey Research Center. if the relationship ends and the subordinate claims the supervisor or. How to Deal With Dating, Sex, and Romance at Work To answer Tina Turner's proverbial question, current research on workplace romance was reviewed. romances when the relationship is between a supervisor and a direct report. Paula McDonald receives funding from the Australian Research Council. The recent revelation of a sexual relationship between Deputy Prime the behaviour of supervisors and managers over their subordinates. In contrast, outright bans on consensual sexual relationships at work are likely to be.
Quinn suggests that workplace romance can contribute to both the improvement and deterioration of different behavioral and performance-related outcomes of employees and organizations. That is, workplace romance can have both positive and negative effects on the behavioral and performance aspects of employees. Literature has usually focussed on, and brought to the fore, several negative repercussions of workplace romance such as negative publicity, litigation and job withdrawals, hostility and cynicism Williams et al.
The literature suggests that workplace romance negatively affects employee behavior and performance Williams et al.
Banning workplace romances won't solve the problem of sexual misconduct in the office
In such situations, workplace romance can result in additional stress for the romance participants and can distract them from work Cole, For instance, workplace romance participants can face disapproval and criticism from peers, particularly if workplace romances are perceived to be detrimental for justice and equity Cole, Workplace romance participants can draw different managerial reactions such as transfer, written warning and verbal reprimand if romances violate the prescribed patterns of behavior, practice, and performance Dillard et al.
Such reactions from peers and managers can expose workplace romance participants to stress and lower their morale Dillard et al. On the contrary, we expect a positive relationship between workplace romance and employee performance. This expectation is built on the following arguments.
First, the impression management hypothesis proposes that workplace participants work hard and demonstrate improved performance to create a favorable impression Dillard and Broetzmann, ; Pierce and Aguinis, The literature suggests that employees involved in workplace romances exhibit improved job satisfaction and performance Wright and Cropanzano, ; Biggs et al.
Consequently, workplace romance participants feel desirable and accepted in the workplace Gutek, ; Pierce, ; Biggs et al.
- Public/private boundaries
- Inappropriate and unlawful sexual behaviour at work
Second, workplace romance literature has usually focussed on sexual or romantic behavior and sexual relations while studying the workplace romance relationship with employee behavior and performance e. Particularly, the operationalization of workplace romance construct in contemporary literature confines the scope of workplace romance and its behavioral and performance outcomes. For self-reports, they adopted above mentioned single item. The respondents were also asked to report the number of such incidents.
We argue that these workplace romance measures, particularly the third-party reports seem to confine the scope of workplace romance to a particular type of sexual activity such as kissing and hugging, as the observer may not be able to inform us about the passion and the level of commitment involved in the relationship.
However, we follow Pierce et al. For example, Debrot et al. Moreover, the happy productive worker hypothesis suggests that content and happy workers show improved performance in organizational settings Iaffaldano and Muchinsky, ; Wright and Staw, ; Judge et al. Thus, we argue that it is likely that workplace romance positively affects employee performance. Finally, the effects of workplace romance depend on the motive for engaging in the relationship. These may include committed love, ego satisfaction, financial rewards, adventure and sexual satisfaction Dillard, ; Pierce et al.
As workplace romance refers to a committed love relationship, we propose a positive relationship between workplace romance and performance. In essence, building on the constructive effects discourse of the workplace romance Pierce et al. Thus, we predict that workplace romance positively affects employee performance.
Workplace romance will positively affect employee performance. Psychological Wellbeing as a Mediator The concept of employee wellbeing is complex Wright et al. Scholars have proposed varying conceptualizations and models of wellbeing.
A detailed analysis of these variations is beyond the scope of this paper and is not the purpose here. The literature usually focusses on three general characteristics of psychological wellbeing. First, psychological wellbeing is portrayed as a subjective experience Diener, ; Wright et al. Second, the psychological wellbeing studies focus on the affective aspects of wellbeing that include relative absence of negative emotional experiences and states, as well as the presence of positive emotional experiences and states, usually on a single axis Wright and Staw, ; Cropanzano et al.
Scholarship on wellbeing also suggests that wellbeing is more than the absence of illness and negative emotions. Rather, wellbeing is conceived as positive emotions, a positive mental state and personal growth Hofmann and Tetrick, ; Arnold et al.
Third, literature categorizes psychological wellbeing as a context-specific wellbeing construct such as job satisfaction, and wellbeing as a global — context free — construct such as general psychosomatic complaints and life satisfaction Warr, ; Grebner et al. We follow the Diener et al.
Moreover, this concept of wellbeing can be both contextualized and operationalized as a global construct.
Additionally, general romance literature suggests that romantic relations promote psychological wellbeing. For instance, research has shown that affectionate touch from the romance partner relieves stress and instills optimism Ditzen et al. Affectionate touch from the romance partner manifests in the form of relaxation and good feeling, suppression of negative feelings and improved relationship quality Burleson et al. The perception of a positive regard from the romance partner offers a sense of security and social inclusion and contributes to the reduction and prevention of stress Ditzen and Heinrichs, Workplace romance literature also suggests that workplace romance has a positive relationship with employee wellbeing.
For instance, Pierce suggests that workplace romance creates positive energy and emotions through affective spill-over effects. Similarly, Dillard and Broetzmann and Dillard et al. This leads to positive attitudes and energy and improved productivity Pierce, The workplace romance affective spill-over hypothesis Pierce et al. That is, employees satisfied from work bring positive feelings to family Piotrkowski, Following this line of argument, Pierce suggests that gratifying experiences of workplace romance can have constructive effects on psychological wellbeing of the workplace romance participants.
Conversely, the spill-over hypothesis also suggests that negative feelings, emotions and experiences from work and family are also correlated Repetti, This suggests that negative experiences of workplace romance can have destructive effects on the psychological wellbeing of the workplace romance participants.
However, negative repercussions of workplace romance are usually linked with dissolved, egoistic and utilitarian romances instead of intact committed romances Dillard et al. Indeed, a number of studies suggest that workplace romance can reduce stress, anxiety and tension Anderson and Hunsaker, ; Mainiero, ; Pierce et al.
Moreover, the general literature on romance also suggests that romantic relationships reduce depression and loneliness and improve self-esteem, optimism and a sense of competence Keefe and Berndt, ; Carver et al. Thus, we predict a positive relationship between workplace romance and psychological wellbeing Wright et al.
Moreover, clinical psychologists acknowledge the imperative role of the pleasantness depression or happiness facet of wellbeing for determining different individual outcomes. Wright and Bonett suggest that depressed individuals tend to be pessimistic and exhibit reduced motivation and self-esteem. Organizational theorists also acknowledge the effect of psychological wellbeing on work-related behaviors and outcomes and the extensive costs related to dysfunctional, psychological wellbeing Wright et al.
Wright and Bonett found a significant positive relationship between psychological wellbeing and employee performance. This informs the following hypotheses.
Psychological wellbeing mediates the positive relationship between workplace romance and employee performance. Moderated Mediation Literature on workplace romance highlights both constructive and destructive effects of workplace romance on employee performance. The variations in the conceptualizations and findings of the relationship between workplace romance and employee performance can be linked to a number of different factors including gender and the type of workplace romance.
Women are more cautious than men about their involvement in workplace romance Wilson, Men tend to demonstrate a more favorable attitude toward workplace romances, whereas women have been reported to have less motivation for engaging in workplace romances Quinn, ; Powell and Foley, Workplace romance experiences of men and women are different Quinn, ; Powell and Foley, There are several reasons that explain gender based differences in cautiousness about, and attitudes toward, the participation in workplace romances.
The status and power in society and organizations are important predictors of these differences in experiences, cautiousness, and attitudes Wilson, Riach and Wilson suggest that different negative stereotypes are usually linked with women, but this is usually not the case for men.
Therefore, women may demonstrate more cautious approach toward workplace romance.
Romantic Relationships in the Workplace
Thus, we speculate the effect of workplace romance on employee psychological wellbeing and performance may vary for men and women, where the effects for male can be stronger Gutek, ; Pierce et al. The variations in the conceptualization of the effects of workplace romance on performance are also attributed to the romance type; i. Unlawful sexual conduct includes sexual abuse, sexual assault and sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment is any unwanted or unwelcome sexual behaviour that makes someone feel offended, humiliated or intimidated.
It is not interaction, flirtation or friendship that is mutual or consensual. In contrast, inappropriate relationships — while not explicitly unlawful — are usually associated with unequal power relationships. What's the difference between sexual abuse, sexual assault, sexual harassment and rape? Organisational codes of conduct often set out guidelines around the behaviour of supervisors and managers over their subordinates.
A power imbalance between two employees may arise due to age, seniority or other factors, such as the capacity to influence outcomes. The development of a sexual relationship in particular — even if it is apparently consensual — creates the potential for abuse of position, for damage to the less-empowered and potentially vulnerable individual, and for conflicts of interests to arise.
A common requirement in codes of employee conduct is for the person with the greater power to notify their supervisor of the relationship and immediately cease any decision-making role in respect of the subordinate. Such guidelines raise awareness of the potential for workplace relationships that may lead to later problems for those involved, and raise risks for organisational reputation and functioning.
By providing a clear course of action, such codes of conduct also acknowledge that workplace relationships do occur. In contrast, outright bans on consensual sexual relationships at work are likely to be seen by many employees as over-reaching into their private lives. They may also perceive that it undermines their autonomy and dignity. Retail fashion chain American Apparel recently introduced a policy barring managers from engaging in romantic relationships with employees over whom they had a perceived or actual influence.
Romantic relationships were defined broadly, and included both casual dating as well as committed relationships. These employer actions have reshaped the boundaries between the relatively public sphere of work and the private lives of employees. Workplace relationship bans may also be impractical and have unintended consequences.
Many people meet their future partners at work or engage in short- or long-term consensual relationships that run their course. The prospects of an employer effectively standing between two adults who are attracted to each other, or who fall in love, and preventing a relationship developing between them, seems slim. Worse, bans may drive relationships underground.