Home Back Issues March 2009 Watch out for the work spouses

Watch out for the work spouses

| Print |  Email
Archives - March 2009
Sunday, March 01, 2009

Growing numbers of people are finding spouses in the workplace, but these couples won’t spend their lives together, just the workday. Less soul mate than cubicle mate, many employees are finding the corporate environment is the perfect place to meet a “work spouse.”

Work-spouse relationships are powerful platonic friendships formed between co-workers that mirror the bonds formed between actual spouses or partners. These close relationships are becoming more common in the workplace, with one in 10 workers reporting that they have a work spouse, according to an online survey conducted for Career Builder.com.

“They are natural relationships that form from being in close proximity with someone on a day-to-day basis,” says Ruth Houston, New York-based infidelity expert and author. “But certain checks and balances need to be put in place to keep a work-spouse relationship from transforming into a work-spouse affair.”

Companies can benefit from “corporate marriages” so long as the relationships remain platonic and productive. Work spouses generally work very well together, because they share an intimate knowledge of their partner’s communication techniques and work skills. The relationship also creates a sense of support, as employees feel that they can express their professional and personal stresses to a trustworthy partner.

Nevertheless, the risk remains that if a platonic relationship turns physical, a sexual harassment suit isn’t far behind. The longer work-spouse relationships continue, the greater the risk of the relationship turning into an affair, says Houston. With more than 12,000 cases of sexual harassment reported in 2007, and more than $49.9 million paid to victims, human resource departments need to be wary of these relationships.  

While constant employee monitoring is impossible, if not a sign of bad management, supervisors need to be wary of the amount of time that employees share together, and the capacities in which they meet. Houston notes that time spent away from the eyes of supervisors and peers, including business trips and late nights spent working, are catalysts for work-spouse relationships to turn sexual.

Staff should be informed regularly about the company’s policies on sexual harassment policies and office romance. Likewise, employees who are aware their work-spouse relationship is considered inappropriate by their peers will be more conscious about venturing off to work on a project alone in a closed conference room, says Houston.

The restrictive nature of a work-spouse relationship often alienates other employees as well. While the work spouses may be a productive team, if one partner cannot work independently of the other, a manager needs to examine the working relationship and ask for a divorce if necessary.    NICOLE STORMBERG


Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

 

More Articles

Community colleges and sustainability

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, July 31, 2014
sustainabilityBY MARY SPILDE | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

Faced with the aftermath of the “great recession,” increasing concern about the environment and dwindling family wage jobs, we have some very important choices to make about our future.


Read more...

Risks & rewards of owning triple net investments

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, July 24, 2014
NNNinvestmentBY CLIFF HOCKLEY | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

With the increasing retirements of Baby Boomers, a massive real estate shift has created a significant increase in demand for NNN properties. The result? Increased demand has triggered higher prices and lower yields.


Read more...

Podcast: Interview with Steve Balzac

Contributed Blogs
Tuesday, August 19, 2014

082014BalzacBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

Tom Cox interviews Steve Balzac, author of "Organizational Psychology for Managers."


Read more...

OB Video: Dress for Success

News
Wednesday, July 02, 2014
DFSOBY JESSICA RIDGWAY | OB WEB EDITOR

Dress for Success Oregon promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and career development tools.


Read more...

Trends in business succession

News
Thursday, July 03, 2014
TrendsBY TED AUSTIN & MIKE BAELE | GUEST CONTRIBUTORS

The Office of Economic Analysis announced that Oregon is currently enjoying the strongest job growth since 2006. While this resurgence has been welcome, the lingering effects of the 2008 “Great Recession” continues to affect Oregon businesses, especially with regard to estate planning and business succession.


Read more...

Why I became an Oregon angel investor

Guest Blog
Monday, July 14, 2014
AngelInvestBY TERRY "STARBUCKER" ST. MARIE

I really didn’t know that much about angel investing, but I did know a lot about the entrepreneurial spirit.


Read more...

The global challenge

News
Friday, June 27, 2014
062714 thumb globalmarketBY JASON NORRIS | OB BLOGGER

Over the last several months we have seen a wave of cross-border acquisitions, primarily U.S.-based companies looking to purchase non-U.S.-based companies. There are a few reasons for this, but the main culprit is the U.S. corporate tax system. The United States has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS