The 2014 Vault Office Romance Survey
The Results Are In!
Just in time for Valentine's Day, the results of Vault's annual peek under the surface of office life (and behind storage room doors) are in. Click through the slides to find out what your colleagues are getting up to after--and sometimes during--work hours.
While office romances are more accepted than ever in the workplace, men and women may be entering into these relationships for entirely different reasons. According to Vault.com’s 2014 Office Romance Survey, 56% of business professionals surveyed say they have participated in some type of workplace relationship, but the types of behavior associated with these unique company connections differ significantly between the sexes. For example, data from the survey indicates that women are much more likely to have dated a supervisor at work, with men more likely to have dated a subordinate.
In recent years, our data has shown the concept of workplace romances gradually becoming more acceptable among survey respondents, so this year we decided to take a deeper look at the relationships. What emerged were some interesting findings, particularly when broken down between men and women.
Office Romances – Men vs. Women
Men and women are equally likely to engage in an office romance – 55% of men surveyed said they have participated in some type of workplace relationship while 56% of women surveyed have done the same.The numbers differ when examining the types of relationships men and women had with colleagues:
- 19% of men reported instances of "random hookups" with colleagues, compared to 12% of women
- 17% of women report that office romances led to "long-term relationships", compared to just 11% of men.
- 20% of women have dated a supervisor while only 9% of men have dated their boss
- 25% of men have dated a subordinate while only 10% of women have dated their subordinate
When it comes to platonic relationships in the office, women are more likely than men to have a "work spouse." Of those surveyed, 38% said they had a "work husband," while only 27% had a "work wife." Many of these relationships have taken different turns, according to those surveyed:
- "I definitely have an office husband -- he's my regular lunch buddy, confidant, and sounding board. Fortunately I've also become good friends with his actual wife!"
- "I had an office 'husband' and then he turned into my long-term boyfriend. We have been dating for over 2 years :)"
- "I used to have an office wife until it became a romantic interest that turned south. Now I have an office 'ex-wife.'"
Regardless of how things turned out, men and women would likely participate in another office romance, with 70% of men saying they would do it again. While that number dips slightly among women, with only 62% saying they would pursue another workplace relationship if the option became available, the general consensus on office romances amongst both sexes is clear – "Why not?"
One survey respondent said, "The right person is the right person. Work is a great way to get to know how somebody conducts themselves professionally and personally. It's also much easier than meeting someone in a bar or club."
Another offered, “Yes, with the right person, but I wouldn't seek it out. I already work long hours so it makes it that much harder to find balance in my life; although it is nice to date someone who gets why I have to work late often.”
Those who wouldn’t participate in another office relationship offer a warning to their counterparts with one business professional offering, "It was the worst decision I ever made and has had disastrous consequences for my professional reputation and office relationships. I don't think I've ever regretted anything more."
Some Business Professionals Take Office Romances Too Far
This year’s survey also suggests that a significant number of people take the phrase "workplace hookup" literally: 32% of respondents admitted to having a tryst in the office, with 3% reporting having been caught in the act.
"In the early days of our relationship, we almost got caught fooling around a little in her office," confessed one survey respondent. "When we were still in the same office, I'd come by every so often and give her a quick tickle or something similar."
Why risk such behavior? One business professional offered, "Things get hot and heavy sometimes — just run with it. There are lots of meeting rooms and closets to use."
In addition to sharing details about their own office trysts, 45% of employees surveyed—down from 53% last year—revealed that they have known a married co-worker to have an affair at the office.
"At one job our CEO's girlfriend got a huge promotion and became a Veep and it created quite a bit of gossip," said one respondent, with another offering, "My boss, married, was sleeping with my coworker, also married. When layoffs were announced, the coworker was protected despite prior poor performance."
Also, 36% of respondents admitted knowing a married or seriously involved co-worker who had a romantic liaison while on a business trip for the company, compared to 42% in 2013.
"It happens a lot in consulting because it's such a transient place to work," noted one business professional.
More Office Romances Take Place in the Insurance Industry
The consulting industry is not the best place for an office hookup, though. While 52% of those identifying themselves as consultants said they had participated in an office romance, their numbers are actually higher in Insurance (72%), Education (70%), Finance & Banking (60%), Government (60%), Manufacturing (59%), Tech (56%) and Energy (55%). The industries with the fewest office romances are Law and Accounting, both at 49%.
Of course, office romances are not for everyone. Of those surveyed, 39% said they have avoided a potential romance that they would have otherwise pursued, specifically to avoid the pitfalls of dating a co-worker.
“Even when I've been interested in somebody single at my workplace, I've had to just avoid at all costs to make sure any chance it could harm our careers or reputations was minimized,” said one respondent.
Vault’s Office Romance Survey was conducted in January with responses from 1,864 employees representing various industries across the U.S. Men and women of varying ages discussed their office romances— the outcome, the impact, and whether or not they would enter into another relationship with a co-worker — in addition to sharing juicier details about workplace trysts, cheating co-workers, supervisor-subordinate relationships, and whether office romances have led to unfair favoritism.