Posts Tagged ‘Office Relationships’

Don’t Break Hearts When Drafting Your Company’s Policy for Office Romance

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

workplace loveHappy Valentine’s Day! The day dedicated to love can sometimes create an HR nightmare. Handling office romance, especially ones involving inappropriate behavior, can be tricky. Protecting your company against possible liabilities is weighed against your employees’ right to happiness. Today, most HR professionals recommend creating a policy to address office relationships.

In his recent post, Max Mihelieh, writer for Workforce.com, asks various HR professionals their opinions on the best way to deal with love in the workplace.

Max starts by highlighting a survey from CareerBuilder:

A CareerBuilder.com survey reveals marriage is a common outcome for dating co-workers as 31 percent of office romances end up in matrimony. Still, if nearly a third of all romances started in the workplace result in marriage, it also means two-thirds end in a breakup.

Because two-thirds of workplace relationships end, including guidelines to address harassment or discrimination issues that might occur from an ugly break up is important. Expect the best, but prepare for the worst when drafting your policy.

Research indicates that the newest generation in the workforce thinks dating coworkers is okay. Max shares insights from a Workplace Options survey:

84 percent of millennials said they wouldn’t have a problem with dating a co-worker. … [T]he study also demonstrates how employee attitudes about dating co-workers are changing, as 36 percent of Generation X workers think dating a co-worker is acceptable.
 

For an on-the-job perspective, Max asks for the opinion of Susan Heathfield, a management consultant and the writer of the human resources page at About.com:

[She] says she has been lucky to have avoided any major romantic relationship issues with her employees. Her thoughts on office dating have changed, she says. She now believes it’s acceptable for most employees to date. “Have a romance. If it impacts the workplace or your performance” disciplinary action will be taken, she said while speaking about her own employees.
 

Because workers spend a majority of their week at work, finding a love connection there isn’t unimaginable. Be realistic with your company’s relationship policy. In Max’s article, Heathfield suggests tailoring your document to address the “outliers”—the handful of employees who decide to not act professionally around their significant other when working.

For more advice on tackling office relationships, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Barbtreck

Office Romance: Protect Your Company and Employees with a Strong Policy

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

With Valentine’s Day taking place earlier this week, reviewing your company’s policy on office relationships is a good idea. People spend the majority of their week working, so a workplace relationship is not an unusual phenomenon. CareerBuilder’s recent survey on love in the workplace indicates that 38 percent of employees have dated a coworker.

Realizing the potential dangers of an office relationship, such as abuse of power, favoritism and low morale, is imperative for employers that want to protect their organization and people. Banning relationships all together is not advised by many labor and employment lawyers and HR professionals.

Attorney Mark Kluger of Mandelbaum Salsburg  told Bloomberg Business Week that creating a policy that prohibits workplace romance is problematic for two reasons:

“…it sends a negative message to employees about your company’s willingness to impose itself into their personal lives. The other thing is that you don’t want to create a Romeo and Juliet situation. If there’s a policy against workplace romances, people will feel they must lie and sneak around, and that’s the last thing you want.”

Instead of forbidding workplace relationships, draft a strong policy that specifies your organization’s expectations for coworkers who date. Below are a few topics that should be addressed in your policy:

Secure the Work Environment:

Explicitly state that your company has no tolerance for and prohibits favoritism and abuse of any kind. Include information on your sexual harassment policy as well. These two details will help maintain a positive workplace environment for all employees.

Outline Consequences:

Make it clear that you take this issue seriously. Inform your workers of the consequences they’ll face if they decide to act against the established policy. Taking this step will make people less likely to break the rules. It will also show your employees that you respect their right to be safe and will punish those who don’t.

Make the Complaint Process Easy:

As an employer, you have a responsibility to your workforce to investigate each claim that implies an employee acted against policy. Develop a complaint procedure that encourages staff members to speak up if they feel like a coworker has violated their rights. Whether the claim is accurate, taking the time to investigate any suspicious activity will be advantageous if a lawsuit occurs. 

Set Ground Rules:

You can’t dictate what your employees can and can’t do outside of work, but you can make your expectations for the workplace extremely clear. You can prohibit public displays of affection, lovers’ quarrels, or anything else that can potentially make other staff members uncomfortable or distracted during workplace hours. Employees involved in a workplace relationship owe you and their coworkers professionalism while they are at work.

Your tailored policy can help you avoid a potential lawsuit if an office relationship turns for the worse, so review your policy annually to make sure it continues to fit the needs of your organization. Additionally, make sure all employees receive the policy and understand the points that are addressed.

For more information on handling office relationships or creating a workplace policy, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: epSos.de

Telecommuting – How Will It Impact Your Company From an HR Standpoint?

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Early morning wake-up calls, clocking in, clocking out and office cubicles have been the norm for working Americans, but as technology continues to grow, so do the number of Americans who no longer make the morning commute. Recently even President Obama expressed his support for telecommuting programs.  Although the idea of working from home may sound like an employee’s dream, it’s vital to fully assess the pros and cons before incorporating such a program into your company policy.

Since a comfortable, flexible working environment is recognized by potential employees as one of the most important aspects of job choice, telecommuting applied appropriately can be used advantageously by Human Resources professionals. By providing the option to telecommute, companies offer employees a career that fits their lifestyles and can stand out among the competition.

How can your company achieve the best of both worlds and allow employees a flexible schedule with the option to work from home, while still producing the same results as if they were operating in-house? Consider the following, and make sure the benefits are equal for both your employees and your company.

Employee availability – Consider parents who start with an early morning and shut down their computers when their children return home from school. Guidelines allowing such flexibility need to be clear – the hours of availability should be concrete and unchanging  for reasons of dependability and accountability.

Virtual communication –Company meetings can still run cohesively without constant face-to-face communication through the comparable use of video conferencing, Skype and other advanced technology.

Distractions – While the office is used for the sole purpose of accomplishing company work,  those working in an environment used for sleeping, eating and relaxation must have a higher level of discipline. Character evaluation is imperative before considering telecommuting. Employees who are trustworthy, time-oriented, focused and who work without constant monitoring prove to be strong candidates.

Maintaining office relationships – Creative, original and innovative ideas are often developed through  collaboration, so the last thing any company wants is for its employees to operate as noncommunicative islands. With staff not interacting on a day-to-day basis, it’s critical to coordinate events, gatherings or lunches, to maintain a team mentality.

Maintaining company security – When employees have the opportunity to access company content from home, you must  provide additional IT protection to staff computers and servers to assure private information is monitored and inaccessible to outsiders.

With the proper protection, procedures and policies in place, many companies see a significant drop in overhead expenses and increased employee satisfaction from incorporating telecommuting. As with any change, it’s important to recognize that telecommuting can only be as successful as the individuals who execute the process. If your company chooses to establish a telecommuting program, plan efficiently, monitor productivity and avoid miscommunication issues.

For additional information, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at (919) 878-9222 or (336) 668-7746.

Photo source: richardmasoner