Holiday hookups in the workplace could be trouble

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Holiday office parties can spark troublesome relationships. Photo courtesy of Rolands Lakis / Flickr
Holiday office parties can spark risky relationships. Photo courtesy of Rolands Lakis / Flickr

Reported by Bonnie Lee La Madeleine

Workplace romances and office hook-ups fuel intrigue in television and movies, but in real life workplace relationships, especially during the holiday season, can destroy reputations and careers.

A 2015 survey by Careerbuilder.com found that 37 per cent of workers have dated a co-worker at least once during their careers. In December, the opportunities for casual mingling increase with office parties and social gatherings, often over drinks. As alcohol reduces anxieties, co-workers might get flirty and a shy new intern might find the courage to approach their office crush.

Reputation on the line

Be careful advises Carey McBeth, a lifestyle and entertaining expert based in Vancouver.

“Your bosses are watching,” she said. “You don’t want to be the person who is hitting on everybody.”

The office party may not be the right time to explore a crush, either. “Because that basically becomes the next day’s office gossip,” she said.

Becoming the subject of office gossip can affect short- and long-term career goals.

“When it comes time for a promotion, when it comes time for a referral from a past employee,” McBeth said. “Your behaviour not only in the office but outside of the office becomes very important.”

Aaron Davis, a career coach for Agora Kaleidoscope, said he sees even harsher consequences to treating one’s reputation lightly.

“It’s not a secret that even posts on Facebook can lead to losing a job these days,” he said. They talk lot about the consequences of socializing at a level that isn’t professional with the youth they coach.

Romance in tight-knit groups sometimes welcome

Austyn King, a Langara student who spends a lot of time at the Hub, thinks relationships should not threaten core friend-groups.

“It’s better to bring the person you are interested in into your friend-group, rather than date someone already in your friend-group,” he said. To King, it’s insurance that the group stays intact.

Davis has implemented a zero-tolerance policy on all workplace relationships.

“It’s a time bomb,” he said. “Nothing destroys a team faster than a romantic relationship with somebody you work with.”

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