‘Tis the season for romance. If this is the case in your office it could be the beginning of a beautiful marriage. In one career builder survey, 31% said they married someone they met at work. Unfortunately relationships at work don’t always end well. Like any relationship, a certain percentage fail, and when co-workers are involved this can lead to a number of workplace issues; especially when one of the parties reports to other.
With Valentine’s day upon us this week, what better time to review or create your office romance policy. The best time to create a policy like this is BEFORE you have issues arise. Here are a couple points to consider:
- One of the biggest issues surrounding office relationships is how it affects other employees in the form of discrimination. Did one employee get a promotion or a certain assignment based on their romantic relationship with someone else? This is a very real threat for litigation.
- Sexual Harassment is another common issue with office romances, especially if one party is more interested in the relationship than the other. You may have heard stories of the man or woman who has their heart set on a co-worker and doesn’t know when to stop their advances. This can easily lead to a litigation if one party is made to feel uncomfortable.
- Work related romance doesn’t always occur within one company. What happens if one of your employees is in a relationship with someone at another company; a competitor? Will there be trade secrets shared, or private client information? This could become a nightmare.
Office romance policies are becoming more popular to help avoid, or at least lessen this issues listed above. According to a recent HR Legalist article here are some important guidelines for creating your office romance policy:
- Limitations or prohibitions regarding supervisor/subordinate romantic relationships, internal department romantic relationships or any kind of on-the-job romantic relationships;
- Disclosure of the relationship to human resources or another internal department within the company;
- Conduct expected from employees. For example, the policy may require employees to refrain from public displays of affection or suggestive talk while at the workplace or at a company-sponsored event. Employers must be mindful to only limit conduct in the workplace, because of employee privacy interests that are implicated by creating such rules; and
- Potential consequences for violating the policy (i.e., transfer to another position, discipline or termination of employment).
Valentine’s Day is a great time for romance, but also a great time to put measures in place to set proper expectations for romance in your office and potentially avoid workplace issues.
If you have questions or would like to learn more about office romance policies, please reach out to Genesis HR Solutions at AskUs@genesishrsolutions.com or 800-367-8367.