Feb 14, 2007

Office romances

During a birthday party of an ex-colleague, I met some folks who were talking about the alarming trend of high divorce rates in the employees of India's largest BPO employer.

"Is work life balance that difficult to maintain?" I asked.

"Oh, work life imbalance has got nothing to do with it. Too much temptation"

Penelope Trunk speaks about how business trips with co-workers is a time when such temptations can find expression.

But if you’re married with children, a business trip is like an escape to Disney Land. There are no kids to feed and bathe. There’s no husband for annoying talks about checkbook balances and the next day’s school lunch. There is only freedom and fun. And what does anyone want to do with freedom and fun except have sex?

And dare I add, off-site training also is a major breeding (no pun intended!) ground of office romances.

A friend who heads recruiting for a large consulting firm was telling me how recent MBAs that he is interviewing, specially from the 2003-04 vintage seem to be have a much higher divorce rate.

Guess people today are married more to their careers than their spouses. The situation is more acute for couples who are both driven career people. Often when one is required to move to a different role in a different city/country the other is unwilling to compromise. Of course, why should they. Both invest a majority of the day and the weekend often for the sake of their careers. Most likely they also have office spouses, whom they spend more time than they do with their real spouse !

As Penelope says:

thirty-two percent of people feel like they are married to their co-workers, and in fact, people do better work when they have this sort of relationship with a co-worker. So it’s not that big a leap to cross the great divide and suggest a rendez-vous while you’re in a grand hotel.

Unfortunately too many employers don't recommend that employees get married, although that is changing in the IT and BPO industries to a large degree. I believe that is a much better thing.

Oops ! Just realised that I posted this on Valentine's day !