The number of cubicle courtships has boomed in the UK, with a third of Brits admitting to having a relationship with a colleague at some point in their career.
With UK employees clocking in more hours at the office than ever before, the workplace has become a common environment for love to blossom, with 17 per cent of workplace couplings resulting in marriages or civil partnerships.
However, cubicle courtships ended in tears for one in seven workers who have had to leave their jobs largely because of a failed romance with a colleague. More men than women resigned because of this, while the vast majority of workers aged over 35-54 stuck it out.
The study of 1,050 UK managers and employees by employee engagement firm Perkbox found men appear to be more accepting of workplace relationships than women, with 67 per cent believing that they are not a problem as long as these do not interfere with work. Overall, managers are also quite accepting of office romances with 62 per cent having no problems with such unions provided that this did not impact on an employee’s job.
That said, a quarter of workplaces confirmed that they had policies in place which discourage romantic relationships at work.
Chieu Cao, Co-founder at Perkbox, said: “Today’s office is a theatre in which many of our everyday human dramas unfold – love, hate, friendships and conflict are all inevitably played out in the realms of our 9-5 job.
“Having the emotional intelligence to navigate these challenges productively is absolutely vital in ensuring employees effectively self-regulate their emotions in the workplace and understand the impact it might have on other colleagues.
“It also ensures that managers remain professional and empathetic in dealing with their employees’ emotional wellbeing.”
The phenomenon of “emotional intelligence” describes an ability to recognise and understand emotions and its impact on behaviour. The study found that 70% of employees believed emotional intelligence to be very important in their job role.
Although a greater proportion of employees said it was even more important for bosses to possess and exercise emotional intelligence. Men are likely to be more open with their emotions, confide in their bosses about affairs of the heart and be more accepting of workplace romances than women.
Some 60 per cent of men would feel comfortable confiding in their bosses on personal issues such as the break-up of a relationship with a partner or spouse, if they felt that it would interfere with them doing their job properly. Only half of women said the same.
Chieu Cao added: “It’s encouraging to see that men are becoming more open with their emotions and are confiding more in their bosses when it comes to affairs of the heart, as it goes against the very stereotypical codes of behaviour dictating how a man should emotionally conduct themselves professionally.
“By contrast, women’s reluctance to open up emotionally at work serves to highlight the continuing challenges they face in business – to rebuke the gender-based conventional codes that posit them ‘too emotional’ and instead to be more poker faced and composed in the face of difficulty, lest the act of displaying or confiding in harms their career prospects.
“It’s also quite concerning how half of UK bosses in our research see emotional intelligence as unimportant and that less than half have proven to be unsupportive of their employees during times of emotional strife.”
“Effective employee engagement must absolutely include processes for managing emotional wellness.
“Neglecting to do so can have numerous implications on the physical wellness of the employee and therefore the ability to do the job at hand, to the personal resentment harboured at management for lack of support and imparting good old-fashioned human empathy.
“The sooner bosses are able to get to grips with this – the most critical of all so-called ‘soft skills’ – using engagement tools and through training, the more adept they will be at creating the kind of inspirational work environment that employs the most successful and productive of teams.”