As the festive season unfolds, workplaces transform into wonderlands adorned with mistletoe and shimmering lights, setting the stage for the annual work Christmas party.

Yet, amidst the glitz and glamour, there’s a curious phenomenon – the surge in romantic office relationships.

Is it the winter chill inspiring cozy connections, the allure of a holiday party kiss, family expectations nudging towards commitment, or the influence of Christmas films shaping our perceptions?

Mandy Watson, Director of Ambitions Personnel, delves into the intricacies of workplace relationships and provides insights on navigating these festive entanglements.

The ‘Love Actually’ Situation: Navigating Flirtations in the Workplace

Ever found yourself in a situation reminiscent of “Love Actually” where a married colleague flirts with you, blurring the lines between friendship and romance? Mandy suggests that while workplace friendships are natural, complications arise when romantic feelings are unreciprocated or involve individuals in committed relationships. Such situations can lead to workplace tension, moral judgment, and, in extreme cases, full-blown affairs. Mandy advises addressing these situations promptly, recognising the potential for damage to professional relationships.

The ‘Holiday’ Predicament: Balancing Feelings and Workload

In the spirit of “The Holiday,” do you find yourself entangled in a work relationship where a colleague exploits your soft spot while piling on extra work? Mandy acknowledges the difficulty of saying no, especially to influential colleagues, but emphasises the importance of setting boundaries. Whether through direct communication or escalation to management, establishing limits is crucial to maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

The ‘Elf’ Scenario: Navigating Workplace Romance

If a colleague expresses romantic interest, the decision to keep things strictly professional or explore a relationship can be challenging. Mandy emphasises the need for transparency and communication in such cases. While there’s no UK legislation governing workplace relationships, employers may set reasonable policies to address concerns such as conflicts of interest or impacts on morale.

The ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’ Circumstance: Dealing with Unwanted Advances

Have you experienced flirtations from a boss that turned sour, leaving you in an uncomfortable work environment? Mandy highlights the importance of recognising and addressing sexual harassment promptly. Seeking advice from colleagues, managers, or HR, and filing a complaint if necessary, ensures a workplace free from unwanted behaviours.

In light of these scenarios inspired by Christmas films, the evidence suggests caution in navigating workplace relationships. Not only do such relationships often end poorly, but they also risk creating awkward atmospheres for colleagues. Recent moves by organisations like ITV to mandate disclosure of workplace relationships raise questions about whether other employers will follow suit.

As the holiday season unfolds, Watson’s insights serve as a valuable guide for professionals navigating the delicate dance of workplace relationships amid the festive cheer.





Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.