October 22, 2020

A Friendly HR Reminder: The Workplace Is Not a Dating Service

Yes, your calendar is correct. Sir Caleb asked me to post on Whisky Wednesday. Fill up your glass, kick back in your chair, and let’s do this, shall we?

An area that I want to address is a topic that is otherwise whispered about or downright ignored by most engagement teams at accounting firms – dating in the workplace. For the purpose of this post, we’re going to let “dating” stand for anything from a one night stand to full fledge monogamous relationships. When done correctly and professionally, there is nothing wrong (from a legal or career perspective) with dating a co-worker. However – at least from my observations – the majority of cases do not fall under this description.

Sleepin’ your way to the top; shacking up with the enemy; earning an Encore award; shagging the secretary; deserving an early promo. Whatever you want to call it, getting drunk and hooking up with a coworker falls into a grey area. And by grey area, I mean the “what the hell were you thinking” area. I suggest treading lightly.


Why it happens – Birds and bees conversation aside, I’m talking about why so many accountants hook up with one another. On paper, it makes sense – similar backgrounds and interests, close and frequent exposure to one another, the lack of time to spend with others outside the office, and of course your campus recruiting department did a kick-ass job when “randomly” selecting resumés. Sure, your associate seems like a catch – but whom have you compared him/her to? Your manager? The mailroom staff? Security!? Come on. Your firm is not Match.com or the Casual Encounters section of Craigslist.

People talk – Newsflash of the day – your co-workers are a bunch of gossip mongers. Again, some of this is due to the “work is my life” mantra. Gossip flies around larger engagement teams when cliques are prevalent – do yourself a favor and head it off from the start of things – DON’T HOOK UP WITH SOMEONE FROM YOUR ENGAGEMENT TEAM. If you absolutely must “keep it in the accounting family,” try a different practice. (Didn’t you hear? Internal audit advisory services is saturated with hotties.) But really, avoid associating yourself with this kind of gossip. As time goes on and people get promoted and shuffled around, you never know who you’re going to be working with. Avoid the guaranteed awkwardness.

It can hurt your career – I’m not saying this is common, because it’s really not. It’s not ethical, but when it comes time for reviews, managers and partners are human. Non-work related factors – like sleeping your way around the block – can have an impact.

If you’re going to date someone from work…keep both of your careers in mind. Be honest with one another, and talk about things. A lot of factors can come into play – what practice lines you’re in, the possibility of working together, and long-term promotion paths are just a few. When marriage becomes a realistic possibility or you are unsure of how to proceed at any time, speak to someone in HR. They can help you better understand your firm’s HR policy and how it relates to your particular situation.

But for you horned up co-eds out there, listen up. Next time you’re out sipping the alcoholic Kool-aid at a partner sponsored “bonding event,” think twice before downing your drink remnants and hopping in a cab with the second year with the nice eyes. You’ll thank me the next morning when you don’t walk in wearing the same peach schnapps stained shirt you had on the night before.

Have a personal experience or bit of advice you want to share? Email me or comment below.

Yes, your calendar is correct. Sir Caleb asked me to post on Whisky Wednesday. Fill up your glass, kick back in your chair, and let’s do this, shall we?

An area that I want to address is a topic that is otherwise whispered about or downright ignored by most engagement teams at accounting firms – dating in the workplace. For the purpose of this post, we’re going to let “dating” stand for anything from a one night stand to full fledge monogamous relationships. When done correctly and professionally, there is nothing wrong (from a legal or career perspective) with dating a co-worker. However – at least from my observations – the majority of cases do not fall under this description.

Sleepin’ your way to the top; shacking up with the enemy; earning an Encore award; shagging the secretary; deserving an early promo. Whatever you want to call it, getting drunk and hooking up with a coworker falls into a grey area. And by grey area, I mean the “what the hell were you thinking” area. I suggest treading lightly.


Why it happens – Birds and bees conversation aside, I’m talking about why so many accountants hook up with one another. On paper, it makes sense – similar backgrounds and interests, close and frequent exposure to one another, the lack of time to spend with others outside the office, and of course your campus recruiting department did a kick-ass job when “randomly” selecting resumés. Sure, your associate seems like a catch – but whom have you compared him/her to? Your manager? The mailroom staff? Security!? Come on. Your firm is not Match.com or the Casual Encounters section of Craigslist.

People talk – Newsflash of the day – your co-workers are a bunch of gossip mongers. Again, some of this is due to the “work is my life” mantra. Gossip flies around larger engagement teams when cliques are prevalent – do yourself a favor and head it off from the start of things – DON’T HOOK UP WITH SOMEONE FROM YOUR ENGAGEMENT TEAM. If you absolutely must “keep it in the accounting family,” try a different practice. (Didn’t you hear? Internal audit advisory services is saturated with hotties.) But really, avoid associating yourself with this kind of gossip. As time goes on and people get promoted and shuffled around, you never know who you’re going to be working with. Avoid the guaranteed awkwardness.

It can hurt your career – I’m not saying this is common, because it’s really not. It’s not ethical, but when it comes time for reviews, managers and partners are human. Non-work related factors – like sleeping your way around the block – can have an impact.

If you’re going to date someone from work…keep both of your careers in mind. Be honest with one another, and talk about things. A lot of factors can come into play – what practice lines you’re in, the possibility of working together, and long-term promotion paths are just a few. When marriage becomes a realistic possibility or you are unsure of how to proceed at any time, speak to someone in HR. They can help you better understand your firm’s HR policy and how it relates to your particular situation.

But for you horned up co-eds out there, listen up. Next time you’re out sipping the alcoholic Kool-aid at a partner sponsored “bonding event,” think twice before downing your drink remnants and hopping in a cab with the second year with the nice eyes. You’ll thank me the next morning when you don’t walk in wearing the same peach schnapps stained shirt you had on the night before.

Have a personal experience or bit of advice you want to share? Email me or comment below.

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