February '16

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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112 || P R I N T W E A R F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6 Dan Danbom is a Denver writer and the author of "Humor Meets the Workforce: Make Laughter One of Your Organization's Goals." LAST LAUGH B Y D A N D A N B O M A fter years of study and a number of research projects, it can now be stated unequivocally that if you have a workplace with more than one person working in it, you are suscep- tible to having workplace romances. It turns out the odds are actually pretty good of having an interof- fice fling. About 40 percent of workers have had an office romance, and, to clarify, by "office romance" I don't mean that someone fell in love with their new heat press. Instead, they fell in love with a co-worker(s). This is the natural result of having people spend their days together. The workplace allows you to assess the personalities of co-workers, to see if you have mutual interests, to see how you collaborate, work under stress, and see if someone you're interested in doesn't have a personality de- fect like flossing during meetings. And, unlike online services that connect couples, in the workplace, you can't use someone else's face. But, with all the advantages the workplace offers in terms of meet- ing and creating relationships with others, there are an equal number of disadvantages. For one, when it comes to having a torrid romance with a co-worker, your spouse might object. If the affair becomes common knowledge, others in the office may feel that their ethical values have been violated, or they may feel morally compromised if asked to cover for adulterous col- leagues, or they may feel that the jilted spouse might be available for drinks. I once worked in an of- fice where a married vice president was having an affair with an un- married executive assistant. While the couple went to extraordinary lengths to conceal their affair, including mispronouncing each other's names in meetings, it eventually got out. I remember that my colleagues and I were all stunned that someone would stoop so low as to date a vice president. To help avoid some of thsee controversies, many businesses have a rule that supervisors can't date subordinates. This reduces the chance that a supervisor will unfairly favor the affected subordinate, thus making the other workers wish the supervisor had a relationship with the unemployment office. The converse can happen, too. A supervisor might try to punish a subordinate if their relationship goes bad. Often, at that point, the subordinate will establish a rela- tionship with an attorney, who in turn will file a sexual harassment suit for six zillion dollars. Needless to say, this means the manager has ruined his or her opportunity to become Employee of the Month. You can kind of predict who will fall into workplace romances. Researchers say that employees who have jobs that allow them to move around freely and socialize with other workers are more likely to meet someone they'll become romantically involved with. Until we take a more charitable view of shackling employees to their work stations, there's probably not a lot that can be done about that. I don't want you to get the wrong idea. A lot of workplace romances avoid the pitfalls and are perfectly wholesome, ro- mance novel-quality relationships. You know the kind I'm talking about: where muscular yet sensi- tive green-eyed Robert wins the heart of headstrong, independent, raven-haired Elizabeth when Robert finally realizes that her dream of perfecting substrate processes is one they both can share, maybe even with a blended family. So although both employees and managers have to be aware of the potential hazards of workplace romances, the fact is that sometimes, you just can't stop romances. Love always wins, you know. Love Your Work, Love Your Workers

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