As spring approaches, love is in the air. We meet each other online, at church, bars, gym, or at work.
It’s a common place to meet – at work. We spend more of our time as adults at the workplace. Many times we travel together and work side by side. 2017 CareerBuilder survey reveals results that 41% of the respondents have dated a co-worker and 30% of these workplace relationships have led to marriage. I met my late husband through work also!
Recent concerns of harassment and improper conduct and the liability to the employer have made this even more complicated. No business or industry is left out or not affected. Your liability as an organization needs to be minimized.
There’s more information re: harassment and investigations, see my website blog: www.triadhrconsulting.com or send an email: firstname.lastname@example.org to talk about your specific questions and issues.
How about dating relationships? Most experts agree that in a practical world, all relationships in the workplace can’t be banned. In fact, to strengthen teams we encourage employees to get to know each other. However, it can complicate the work environment.
Recently, Sharon, an IT tech was dating Tony, a Supervisor in the Budget office. Others started noticing that the IT department was getting more freedom to rearrange funds and have more freedom in their budget than other departments. They cannot help but wonder whether Suzanne’s relationship with the Budget Supervisor something had to do with that.
Complications do arise. Issues of favoritism emerge. As the relationship unfolds there is more gossip and distractions are apparent and it ramps up again. Or if the relationship comes to an end as many do, rumors and distractions start all over again.
How does it affect employee morale of coworkers who work with it? What about effects on retention and potential for harassment claims. What happens when an employee attempts to start a relationship with an uninterested co-worker or when an initially consensual relationship comes to an end. How is work affected when the partners may be more focused on each other rather than their work – productivity is affected, along with co-workers distracted.
How can you have a strategic approach? Have you discussed what should be allowed? Should you have a no-dating policy? It depends. Does it make sense in your organization?
It can be helpful to have a clear idea of the outcomes a policy will help you guard against—or support.
- One approach is to state in writing or policy that the organization values a professional relationship between the employees and supervisors to ensure impartial and fair management decisions, minimize potential for conflict of interest, safety, security or morale issues.
Another option is to consider using a love contract. A love contract is a document that employees who are involved in romantic relationships are asked to sign to formally document stating that the relationship is consensual which can help protect employers if one of the parties in the relationship later claims sexual harassment. These contracts can also outline the employer’s policies regarding workplace conduct, such as displays of affection.
NOTE: Employers may not force employees to sign love contracts as a condition of employment. Instead, employers should emphasize the value of such contracts in avoiding issues down the road and protecting the interests of all involved.
- A related policy to check is your Harassment Policy. This should outline the conduct your organization considers to be harassment and how to address the issues. This policy can help address some related issues of dating between co-workers.
You may wish to have in place a formal policy regarding dating or personal relationships in the workplace to help address some of the potential negatives that can emerge when employee relationships turn romantic.
- Nepotism – The primary area of concern: relationships between supervisors and employees. Check the website at for a free sample: www.triadhrconsulting.com.
In the future – your policy – 0ngoing communication and training is important to ensure that managers and staff understand the company’s philosophy, policies and practices related to romantic relationships in the workplace.
At the outset of employment with your organization, employees should be made aware of the workplace policies and procedures that will apply to them including nepotism and dating.
Communicate at regular Intervals throughout the employment relationship such annual training and in-service sessions reminding employees not only on policies, but also on the perks and benefits that the organization offers. You will see a better understanding by everyone on how to handle relationships.
Further questions? Issues you face that are not clear to resolve? Email me at dorothy@triadhrconsulting for a free 30 minute consultation,