There's no denying it. It's a tough world out there for employers and employees. In today's career-conscious society we're increasingly spending more time at work and as a result finding it harder to juggle personal lives with career agendas. According to figures from the Trade Union Congress, a fifth of Britons are regularly putting in seven hours of unpaid overtime every week.
With this pressure to go above and beyond what is required of us in our professional lives, it's not just the lack of time that holds professionals back in the dating game. Navigating difficult situations like an office romance or simply finding time to manage dating, work and deadlines can all prove problematic.
As part of our annual LoveGeist Report, the definitive guide to the nation's changing attitudes towards dating and relationships, we've found that the singles who are actively (or considering) looking for a relationship would be more willing to change their image, who they socialise with and even where they live than their dedication to their careers.
With these constant work pressures we face as a nation, the opportunities to find a partner are harder to come by. It is hardly surprising that online dating has exploded over the past decade and is now ranked as the third most popular way to meet a partner behind pubs, clubs or through friends.
We can't ignore the fact that the office is one of the most popular places to meet someone. Our LoveGeist Report also found that a third of office workers have had a workplace relationship, which is hardly surprising when you consider the number of hours we spend at work. Yet only 30% are completely accepting of their colleagues forming relationships, so managing corporate romances with consideration and discretion is still important. Of course there are times when it might be inappropriate, for example, if one employee has direct line management of their partner. But I suspect this is a rare issue.
At match we've had office romances among our staff and never found it compromised people's professionalism or ability to do their job. It had quite the opposite effect and we found that when relationships developed into long-term partnerships it resulted in happier and more relaxed employees.
Employers have been known to ban access to social networking and online dating sites during office hours and this just pushes staff to use their internet-enabled smartphone in our pocket. The lines between our personal and professional lives are becoming increasingly blurred as a result. At match we believe it is important to treat staff as responsible adults rather than with heavy handed regulation.
Many organisations might think that using online dating sites or social networks during office hours could be seen to be a waste of valuable time, but from my experience at match.com, if you trust your staff, most will exercise good judgement.
In all of its various guises, dating can hugely benefit businesses, from creating happier staff in the workplace, to improving overall well-being, helping us do our job better. More organisations need to recognise that the work-life balance has changed considerably in recent years. Today we work harder and longer hours, with some spending more than 80% of their lives at work. It is more important than ever that employers recognise the benefits of a happy and hence productive workforce, both in terms of staff retention and the growth of the business as a whole.