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Job board research reveals 7 in 10 accountants call for ban on office relationships

Many of those calling for a ban believe that inter-office relationships can come across as unprofessional

According to new research released by global job board, seven in ten accountants believe there should be a ban on office relationships – particularly if they work closely or are reporting directly to each other.

The research, entitled “Ethics –The Moral Compass at Work” and conducted amongst 1,705 accounting professionals during July-September 2015, also revealed that nine in ten of their organisations do not currently have a ban on office relationships and three quarters of respondents are aware of someone in their organisation who has had a relationship with someone else in the office.

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Many of those calling for a ban believe that inter-office relationships can come across as unprofessional. They also stated that that business and personal lives should not be mixed as they can be detrimental to the organisation as well as to one’s career. Whilst one accountant believes that there is no grey area on this matter (‘it’s abhorrent”), some felt that office relationships can impair judgement, create a conflict of interest, prevent them and others from achieving organisational goals and disrupt the team spirit. One accountant simply said ‘I don’t have time for love’.

The majority (54%) of those would not keep quiet if they knew about an inter-office relationship taking place, either choosing to report it to their line manager, saying something to one or both of the people concerned and even taking it to the top of the organisation.

Other highlights of the research include:

  • Nearly half (46%) felt a boss is exploiting his/her power if they have an intimate relationship with a junior member of staff. This could pose further problems with the junior member further down the line, if he or she didn’t want to continue in the relationship and was worried about their career being compromised within that organisation. Although on the flip-side, there is a school of thought that a junior member could also be exploiting the situation to fast-track their career.
  • Nearly two thirds do not think it’s acceptable for a client facing staff member to have intimate relationships with a client – whilst the remainder think it’s fine if it is a private client and as long as it is not someone directly in the client team.

Simon Wright, Operations Director of

“Given we spend so much of our time working with colleagues, it is only natural that in some instances friendships will become intimate. Whilst we may have all heard about “happily ever after stories” of people who met through work, not all relationships will last and employers and line managers need to strongly consider how to mitigate against any fall-out and the potential impact on the business.

“That said, imposing a love ban in the workplace could be regarded by employees as too draconian and an infringement on their rights. If not already in place, perhaps bosses should consider establishing a work place relationship policy which identifies the roles which would need disclosure on relationships, a duty to disclose if there was a conflict of interest or a threat to the business. Employers may also want to consider prohibiting intimate behaviour at work since this can be a distraction to other staff and achieving business goals.”

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