A growing number of employees are no longer keeping their relationships with co-workers strictly business, new research finds.
A study from CareerBuilder revealed that 41 percent of professionals have dated a co-worker, up from 37 percent last year and the highest percentage in the past 10 years. Although most of these relationships eventually fizzle out, 30 percent of office romances lead to marriage. On the flip side, however, five percent of employees said they left a job because of an office relationship gone bad.
An increasing number of workplace romances are between more than just peers. The study found that 29 percent of employees have dated someone in a higher position than them, up from 23 percent a year ago. It's not just higher ups throughout an organization employees have dated, 15 percent of those surveyed have dated their direct boss. [See Related Story: Flirting with Trouble: Office Romances Can Prove Costly]
Dating someone higher on the corporate ladder isn't the only romantic risk some employees take. The research revealed that 19 percent of office relationships involved at least one person who was married at the time.
The number of employees having an office tryst could continue increasing. The study shows that seven percent of employees who haven't yet dated a co-worker currently work with someone they would like to date this year.
While the majority of employees feel comfortable making their office romances public, 38 percent of those surveyed had to keep the relationship a secret at work.
Keeping those secrets is easier said than done, however. A previous study from CareerBuilder found that 30 percent of those who were in an office romance have run into other colleagues while out with their sweethearts. When caught red-handed, 37 percent pretended they weren't dating, while 63 percent admitted to the relationship.
Past research discovered many office affairs blossom when employees are off the clock. Of those who have dated a co-worker, 12 percent said their workplace romances began after a late night on the job and 10 percent said they started after a happy hour. Additionally, 10 percent said it started after a chance meeting outside of work and nine percent after a lunch outing.
Not all workplace relationships involve romantic sparks, however. The research discovered that eight percent of employees play it safe by having a platonic office "husband" or "wife."
The current study was based on surveys of 3,411 full-time employees over the age of 18.