Working for the same company as your significant other sounds like a great idea, right? You can commute together, eat lunch together, and just spend more time together overall. What’s not to like?
Unfortunately, the reality isn’t always perfect when you work at the same company as your significant other, and I’ve seen it more times than I can count. Yes, it can be wonderful, but make sure you understand the risks before you do it. Here are some of the most common risks I’ve witnessed throughout my 25-year career.
If you work in the same department as your significant other or one of you manages the other, the risk of favoritism in terms of raises, promotions, giving him or her the best projects, and so on is very real. To counter this risk, don’t date or marry someone you supervise who works directly with you in any way. Most companies have policies about dating someone within your department or a direct report, but it should be avoided even if the company doesn’t have a formal policy.
The risk of both people getting laid off can be a significant problem to couples who depend on two incomes to pay their bills every month. I’ve seen this happen multiple times at large companies, but it could happen at companies of any size. You never know when a merger or acquisition might happen or when a company might start struggling financially. Layoffs are commonplace these days, so be careful!
People can develop negative perceptions of your working relationship with your significant other regardless of how hard you try not to play favorites. Colleagues still might perceive that favoritism exists, and you might have to defend yourself. Things can get ugly quickly, so document everything related to your decisions and communications.
Sometimes people who work with their significant others try so hard not to play favorites that they end up acting with reverse favoritism. Rather than giving their significant other the best projects, they give him or her the worst projects. The significant other is not going to be happy, and it could cause strain on both your work and personal relationships.
The Final Decision is Yours
Note that I didn’t even talk about any of the psychological aspects of working for the same company as your spouse in this article. For many people, there is great value in having some alone time during a long commute or having a separate workplace that’s just yours. For some people, work gives them a sense of identity that they don’t want to share. For others, working together would be a dream come true, and that’s fantastic. However, be sure to weigh the risks against the rewards before you make any long-term decisions.
Would you work with your significant other? Have you worked together in the past? Share your experiences below.