Crushing on Your Co-Worker? You’re Not Alone

February 12, 2020

ALEXANDRIA, Va., February 12, 2020—More than half of American workers report having had a crush on a co-worker, according to a new survey released today by SHRM—the Society for Human Resource Management.

The survey asked a nationally representative sample of American workers about their romantic involvement with co-workers. It found:

  • 54 percent of American workers have had a crush on a co-worker;
  • 27 percent have had a workplace romance;
  • 27 percent of Americans who dated someone from work dated their boss or a higher up, while 20 percent dated a subordinate or someone lower in their organization;
  • 25 percent of American workers have had a "work wife" or "work husband," and more than half admit feeling romantic feelings for this person;
  • 41 percent have been asked on a date by a co-worker while 23 percent have asked a co-worker on a date.

"Employers simply can't forbid the reality of romance within the workplace," said SHRM president and CEO Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP. "Instead, they should reflect on their culture and ensure their approach is current, realistic, and balanced in ways that protect employees while leaving them free to romance responsibly."

"This Valentine's Day, organizations should reexamine their policies. They need to establish guidelines that get everyone—executives, employees, and managers alike—taking care that heartaches don't become headaches," Taylor added. 

The percentage of Americans who have dated a co-worker remained roughly the same as what SHRM's 2019 survey found (see below). However, an insight offered by the new survey was the relative position of each party within the company. While a majority (53%) report dating a co-worker at their level, SHRM found 27 percent are dating a superior and 20 percent are dating a subordinate.

One interesting finding regarded the "work wife" or "work husband" relationship. Though often conceived as a playful, platonic rapport between co-workers, more than half of those with a "work spouse" admitted having romantic feelings for that person. Notably, nearly 20 percent more men than women reported feelings for their "work spouse."



Media: Contact Julie Hirschhorn at and 703-842-5152 or Cooper Nye at and 703-535-6447.

Methodology: A sample of 696 Americans who are current members of the labor pool were surveyed by NORC at the University of Chicago's AmeriSpeak Panel, a nationally representative panel of U.S. adults. Data was collected January 30-February 2, 2020. The margin of error was 4.07 percent.


About SHRM

SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, creates better workplaces where employers and employees thrive together. As the voice of all things work, workers and the workplace, SHRM is the foremost expert, convener and thought leader on issues impacting today's evolving workplaces. With 300,000+ HR and business executive members in 165 countries, SHRM impacts the lives of more than 115 million workers and families globally. Learn more at and on Twitter @SHRM.



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