SHRM Survey: Half of U.S. Workers Have Crushed on a Co-Worker

February 11, 2021
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SHRM Survey: Half of U.S. Workers Have Crushed on a Co-Worker

ALEXANDRIA, Va., February 11, 2021—Amid a changing office landscape, workplace romances are on the rise. A new survey from SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, found that 50 percent of workers have had a crush on a colleague, and more than one-third (34 percent) of U.S. workers have been involved in or are currently involved in a workplace romance—up 7 percentage points from last year.

With remote work moving many organizations from the office to home and shifting in-person meetings to Zoom gatherings, it may be surprising to some people that SHRM's poll found that nearly 2 in 5 workers have been asked on a date by someone they work with, and 1 in 4 have asked a colleague out on a date.

Other key findings include:

  • One-quarter of U.S. workers (25 percent) either began a new workplace romance during the COVID-19 pandemic or have continued an existing workplace romance that began prior to the pandemic.
  • Nearly 70 percent of U.S. workers who are in or have been involved in a workplace romance dated their peers, while 21 percent dated their subordinates and 18 percent dated their superiors.
  • Nearly one-quarter of U.S. workers have or had someone they consider their "work spouse," and 45 percent have felt romantic feelings toward this individual.  

"During a period where we're spending more time isolated than together, workers are looking for meaningful connections. If employees find romance in the workplace, be it remotely or at the worksite, they should try to be transparent—especially if the relationship poses a conflict of interest," said SHRM President and Chief Executive Officer Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP. "As the culture of our workplaces continually grow and evolve, it's in the best interest of employers and HR professionals to consider implementing guidance or update existing workplace-romance policies."

The survey also revealed that 78 percent of U.S. employees said their employer does not require that they disclose a workplace romance, and a majority of workers (75 percent) have not disclosed their relationship to their employer.

"The average person will spend about 90,000 hours at work throughout their lifetime. With this in mind, workplace romances are bound to happen. However, HR professionals have a responsibility to protect employees from favoritism, retaliation and incidents of sexual harassment," said SHRM Chief Knowledge Officer Alex Alonso, Ph.D., SHRM-SCP. "Ultimately, HR should encourage both honesty and professionalism to keep working relationships—and workplaces—running smoothly."


Media: Contact Julie Hirschhorn at Julie.Hirschhorn@shrm.org or Mallory Flynn at Mallory.Flynn@shrm.org.

Methodology: A sample of 1,000 Americans was surveyed using the Amerispeak Omnibus, NORC at the University of Chicago’s probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. household population. The survey was administered Thursday, January 28 to Monday, February 1, 2021. Of the 1,000 Americans surveyed, 540 were either working as a paid employee or laid off or furloughed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. For the purposes of this survey, we refer to this group as “employed Americans.” All data was weighted to reflect the U.S. adult population.

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 SHRM.org and on Twitter @SHRM.

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