The following post is by Bruce Clarke, CAI’s CEO and President. The article originally appeared in Bruce’s News and Observer Column, The View from HR.
Statistics show that one-third of employees will date someone at work and up to 20 percent will find their spouse or partner at work.
Managers should recognize that people will fall in like or love at work, and there is no law or best practice requiring you to prevent or end these relationships (good luck with that, anyway).
Most employers understand this dynamic, but know the emotions involved can cause real workplace problems if mishandled.
Events are hard to predict. Office romance is known as a disproportionate cause of workplace violence.
When one or both romantics are married to other people who may also work for the same company, you have a potentially explosive situation.
Perceptions of favoritism may cause problems, too. Employee morale is easily jeopardized, especially if one of the lovebirds is a manager with the power to promote and give raises to his or her favorite Valentine.
What does your company policy say about consensual workplace romance? You need to stay in compliance or get guidance.
Less than 15 percent of policies prohibit workplace romances, but all employers want to ensure there is no harassment or pressure.
Stay focused on your policy and on the workplace impact of behaviors. Private conversations with the individuals involved to clear the air and state the company’s position without preaching can be difficult but very important.
Put the burden on the employees to prevent bad situations. Carefully consider with HR any issue around the transfer or termination of one or the other.
Romantic employees: Be the one to deliver the news (and not become the subject of water cooler talk or a security camera tape). People will know before you think they know, and they love to gossip. Be the one with a proactive plan to give your managers, focused on policy and preventing complications.
Granted, your situation may be different from others’. But think about how management and co-workers are likely to react, not just how you want them to react.
Photo Source: Lori Branham