Co-workers with benefits: The influence of commitment uncertainty and status on employee engagement in romantic workplace relationships

Brad Shuck*, Jesse Owen, Megan Manthos, Kelley Quirk, Galena Rhoades

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the relation between employee engagement, decisions to be in a relationship with a co-worker, and commitment uncertainty in a sample of adults who identified they were currently working with their romantic partner. Design/methodology/approach – Because workplace romance can be a taboo topic among working adults, we recruited participants anonymously from online social media websites (n=68). The use of non-experimental design limits the ability to draw causal references in relation to the variables of interest. Findings – Participants who reported they were motivated to be in a romantic relationship with a co-worker to increase status also reported lower levels of engagement, even after controlling for other relationship (e.g. relationship adjustment) and workplace variables (e.g. intent to turnover). Practical implications – Romantic relationships within the workplace will most certainly transpire yet the topic remains underexplored in the management literature. This work provides scholars and practitioners insight into the psychological mechanisms that influence workplace relationships and more, explores how relationships between co-workers impact performance variables such as employee engagement. Originality/value – This is the first study to examine the influence of workplace romantic relationships in the context of employee engagement. Moreover, this is one of only a handful of studies that has documented the empirical linkage between workplace relationships and performance variables.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)382-393
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Management Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 11 2016


  • Commitment
  • Commitment uncertainty
  • Employee engagement
  • Management
  • Motives
  • Workplace romance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Co-workers with benefits: The influence of commitment uncertainty and status on employee engagement in romantic workplace relationships'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this