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Office Romance OK With Most Folks

But don't let love interfere with your work, researchers say

SUNDAY, Feb. 14, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- For all of you who found your Valentine at work, here's good news.

Office romances don't bother fellow workers unless they have a negative effect, a new Canadian study finds.

"Most people believe romantic relationships [at work] are OK as long as they don't affect productivity, de-motivate other colleagues or have an impact on the overall work environment," study author Nina Cole, an associate professor in the Ted Rogers School of Business Management at Ryerson University in Toronto, said in a news release from the school.

She surveyed 100 Ryerson employees who had observed a romance in the workplace. Most of those romances involved two single employees (75 percent) in a peer-working relationship (76 percent) in the same department (65 percent). The average length of the romances was 20 months.

Cole found that the study participants believed there are certain times when managers should take action over office romances. These include: when the performance of co-workers is hindered; when the workplace environment is tainted; when negative emotion from a breakup affects the workplace; and when there's a romance between a manager and employee in the same department.

"Clearly, there are specific situations when co-workers perceive that managerial action should be taken. But they don't believe action should be taken all of the time," Cole said.

It's important to implement policies about workplace romances, she added.

"Even a general policy is good. It acknowledges that office romances are a fact of organizational life, but it also sends the message that you shouldn't let romantic relationships affect the workplace."

The study was published in a recent issue of the Journal of Business and Psychology.

More information

The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology Inc. has more about workplace romance.

SOURCE: Ryerson University, news release, Feb. 9, 2010
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