• Hendrika Verhoef Stellenbosch University
  • Lourie Terblanche


This paper reports on research that explored the effects of dissolved romances on the psychosocial functioning and productivity of the employees involved at an industrial clothing factory in Cape Town in 2012-2013. Also explored is the consequent need for appropriate intervention through the existing Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). A qualitative research approach is applied.The main conclusion confirms the overall negative effect of the breakdown of workplace romances on the psychosocial functioning and productivity of the employees involved in the workplace and gives an indication of how the EAP could most effectively respond to this phenomenon. Mediation as a possible strategy is recommended to deal with workplace romances.

Author Biography

Hendrika Verhoef, Stellenbosch University
Postgraduate student; Prof Lourie Terblanche, Department of Social Work and Criminology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


ALSTON, M. & BOWLES, W. 1998. Research for social workers: an introduction to methods (2nd ed). London: Routledge.

AMARAL, H.P. 2006. Workplace romance and fraternization policies. University of Rhode Island: Schmidt Labor Research Center.

ARMITAGE, C. 2009. Mediation is good for everyone. New Zealand Management, 57:7.

BABBIE, E. & MOUTON, J. 2001. The practice of social research (South African ed). Cape Town: Oxford University Press.

CARTER, C. 2008. Limited future for workplace mediation. Personnel Today, 11:9.

COLE, N. 2009. Workplace romance: a justice analysis. Journal of Business Psychology, 24:363-372.

DILLARD, J.P. 1987. Close relationships at work: perceptions of the motives and performance of relational participants. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 4(2):179-193.

DILLARD, J.P. & BROETZMANN, S.M. 1989. Romantic relationships at work: perceived changes in job-related behaviors as a function of participant’s motive, partner’s motive, and gender. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 19:93-110.

DILLARD, J.P., HALE, J.L. & SEGRIN, C. 1994. Close relationships in task environments: Perceptions of relational types, illicitness, and power. Management Communication Quarterly, 7:227-255.

FOLBERG, J., MILNE, A.L. & SALEM, P. 2004. Divorce and family mediation models, techniques and applications. New York: The Guildford Press.

LICKEY, N.C., BERRY, G.R. & WHELAN-BERRY, K.S. 2009. Responding to workplace romance: a proactive and pragmatic approach. The Journal of Business Inquiry, 8(1):100-119.

LITTLE, S. 2010. Workplace responses to employee grief following the dissolution of a romantic relationship. Conference report to the 2010 Academy of Management Conference, University of Montana, Missoula.

LUNA, C. & YIALELIS, L. 2008. Mediation solves problems with help of those involved. The Wenatchee Business Journal, 2:39.

MAINIERO, L.A. 1986. A review and analysis of power dynamics in organizational romances. Academy of Management Review, 11(4):750-762.

MAINIERO, L.A. 1989. Office romance: love, power, and sex in the workplace. New York: Rawson Associates.

MANO, R. & GABRIEL, Y. 2006. Workplace romances in cold and hot organizational climates: the experience of Israel and Taiwan. Human Relations, 59(1):7-35.

O’LEARY-KELLY, A.M., LEAN, E., REEVES, C. & RANDEL, J. 2008. Coming into the light: intimate partner violence and its effects at work. Academy of Management Perspectives, 22(2):57-72.

PEARL, J. 2004. Worth fighting for. Community Care, 1535.

PIERCE, C.A., BYRNE, D. & AGUINIS, H. 1996. Attraction in organizations: a model of workplace romance. Journal of Organizational Behaviour, 17(1):5-32.

PIERCE, C.A. 1998. Factors associated with participating in a romantic relationship in a work environment. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 28(18):1712-1730.

PIERCE, C.A., AGUINIS, H. & ADAMS, S.K. R. 2000. Effects of a dissolved workplace romance and rater characteristics on responses to a sexual harassment accusation. Academy of Management Journal, 43(5):869-880.

PIERCE, C.A. & AGUINIS, H. 2003. Romantic relationships in organizations: a test of a model of formation and impact factors. Management Research, 1(2):161-169.

PIERCE, C.A., BROBERG, B.J., McCLURE, J.R. & AGUINIS, H. 2004. Responding to sexual harassment complaints: effects of a dissolved workplace romance on decision-making standards. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 95(1):66-82.

PIERCE, C.A. & AGUINIS, H. 2009. Moving beyond a legal-centric approach to managing workplace romances: organizationally sensible recommendations for HR leaders. Human Resource Management, 48(3):447-464.

PIERCE, C.A., MUSLIN, I.S., DUDLEY, C.M. & AGUINIS, H. 2008. From charm to harm: a content- analytic review of sexual harassment court cases involving workplace romance. Management Research, 6(1):27-46.

POWELL, G.N. & FOLEY, S. 1998. Something to talk about: romantic relationships in organisational settings. Journal of Management, 24(3):421-448.

QUINN, R.E. 1977. Coping with Cupid: the formation, impact, and management of romantic relationships in organizations. Administrative Science Quarterly, 22(1):30-45.

SCHAEFER, C.M. & TUDOR, T.R. 2001. Managing workplace romances. SAM Advanced Management Journal, 66(3).

SOLOMON, C.M. 1998. The secret’s out: how to handle the truth of workplace romance. Workforce, 27(7):44-48.

WILSON, R.J., FILOSA, C. & FENNEL, A. 2003. Romantic relationships at work: does privacy trump the dating police? Defense Counsel Journal, 70(1):78- 88.

WYNN-EVANS, C. 2010. Sweet harmony. Employers Law, 9.