Are People Still “Sleeping With the Boss?”

Are People Still “Sleeping With the Boss?”

Sexual workplace relationships are still happening in the #MeToo era.

By Marianne Garvey

Having a personal relationship with a co-worker can be complicated, and it get even trickier if it’s with a superior.

While some jobs explicitly forbid employees from dating one another (and there are sexual harassment laws in place to ensure there's no abuse of power), it certainly does happen — even with the boss. Of course, now in the wake of #MeToo, there's even more of a spotlight on the fraught dynamics that occur if an employee enters a sexual relationship with a superior. 

So is sleeping with the boss at all acceptable? A new study by Zety recently examined the workplace dynamic by asking 1,000 employees the outcome of sleeping with the boss.

First, the study looked at how many respondents were hit on by either a co-worker or manager — and  over 35 percent reported they’d been hit on by a colleague, with 9 percent reporting that a manager had flirted with them and a solid 27 percent answering they’d been hit on by both. Shockingly, only 28 percent said they'd never been wooed by either a colleague or member of management.

Next, the study dived in to see if men and women's workplace experiences differed at all. In news that will be unsurprsing to most, the study found women were getting hit on more than men. “More women than men, for example, reported they’d been hit on by both managers and colleagues, while more men noted they’d never been hit on by either. And there were almost two percentage points between men and women when discussing whether they’d been hit on by a manager or other superior – with more men than women affirming. Also, men were 32 percent more likely than women to think that it was fine for a manager to sleep with the employees under them," the study noted.

Finally, the study looked to see if industry had an effect on workplace flirtation. “For those who had never slept with their boss, a little more than half of those in the construction industry were cool with the possibility, while less than a quarter of those in government or public administration roles cited it was OK. It turns out that women are definitely underrepresented in the construction industry – they only account for around nine percent of the total construction workforce. This could be a factor in the views of the industry as a whole, at least in regards to getting busy with the boss,” the study reported.

Respondents were also asked if (at any point in their career) they knew of a colleague who had slept with the boss. A whopping 58 percent answered “yes.”

They were then asked what they would do do if they found out one of their co-workers had gotten busy with the boss? “Most people said they would do nothing – over 64 percent, in fact, would keep that information to themselves. However, not everyone would be keen to stay mum. Sixteen percent said they’d dish to another colleague, and a little over 11 percent would actually send an anonymous tip to their HR department,” Zety noted. "The less-frequently cited responses were even more interesting, with around six percent saying they’d attempt to sleep with their colleague, four percent attempting to blackmail their boss, and a little more than three percent posting about it on social media.”

Of course, not everyone who's attracted to a co-worker acts on it. 40 percent of employees admitted they’d been attracted to their superior at some point, but had never acted on it. In fact, only 28 percent of employees reported they had done the deed with their boss.

The hospitality and food services, technology, and wholesale and retail fields were the top three industries where "sleeping with the boss" is a phenonomen, while government and public administration workers were the least likely to sleep with their boss.

“Men were twice as likely than women to sleep with their boss with the hope that it would eventually lead to a promotion. However, the top reason cited for getting together with a boss was simply sexual attraction (cited by over 66 percent of respondents). A close second was because they wanted to have a good time (52 percent), and nearly 22 percent said they felt power was attractive. 20 percent admitted that both parties were drunk during the experience,” the survery noted.

While the personal outcome of a workplace romantic moment can vary, so too can the professional outcome. “Fortunately, it’s mostly good news, with over 51 percent saying the relationship stayed the same, and 34 percent stating that it took a turn for the better. Same goes for job satisfaction and stress level – most respondents who slept with their boss reported that everything stayed the same or improved.”

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