What If Your Company Encouraged Co-Worker Dating?

Quick! Name a sitcom about the soulless drudgery of office life. For most people, The Office comes to mind. But there are lots of shows out there about the daily grind, and one with lots of promise is Better Off Ted--which debuted last spring on ABC and begins its second season tonight (at 9:30 PM ET).

Ted has more bite than The Office -- and more whimsy. With its witch-in-charge and its far-fetched storylines, it’s more comparable to Ugly Betty. And speaking of those storylines, tonight’s is pretty outrageous: The company where Ted works, Veridian Dynamics, encourages its employees to date coworkers who complement them genetically -- for reasons involving future health insurance premiums. The company even provides each worker with the name of his or her perfect genetic match.

The idea isn’t exactly rooted in reality, but it sure provides a zany way to look at office romances. Regular viewers know that Ted (Jay Harrington), who’s divorced, has already vowed to never again get involved with someone at the office. (And who could blame him, considering his one dalliance was with corporate ice queen, Veronica (Portia de Rossi)? It’s kept him from pursuing Linda (Andrea Anders), despite his feelings for her.

Truth is, dating coworkers is pretty common. In a 2006 study by the Society of Human Resource Professionals and careerjournal.com, about 40% of employees reported being involved in a workplace romance at some point in their careers. People spend most of their time at work, so it’s only natural that they’d find their mates there, too. But if the relationship goes south—and one person is higher ranked than the other—the company is vulnerable to sexual harassment claims.

You’d think that more companies would have policies that restricted coworker dating, but not many do. Of the companies polled in the study, about 18% had a written policy stating that workplace romance was "permitted but discouraged." Only a small fraction of them banned office dating all together.

None encouraged it like Veridian Dynamics does tonight on Ted. How would you feel if your company decided to play matchmaker with its employees? It’s a little creepy, sure. Cheaper than match.com, though.

Have you ever dated a coworker? Chime in below!

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