Since Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, I thought we would cover the always popular and always controversial topic: "Office Romances"
A lot of people ask us: Should my company have an office romance policy or just handle the situations as they come up?
It is important that companies develop a policy and response to these situations before they arise, less they let the particular circumstances or their feelings toward employees in a particular situation develop the policy for them.
We suggest that the best way is not to ignore and not to prohibit, but rather to manage the relationships with boundaries.
Here are some suggestions:
Prohibit relationships between supervisors and their staff.
While you may not be able to stand in the way of true love, you can remove the supervisory relationship. At no time do you want a situation – real or perceived – in which a person has decision making responsibility regarding the terms and conditions of employment of an employee with whom they are in a romantic relationship.
Your office romance policy should be explicit on this, as well as to the fact that the company reserves the right to determine which party will have a change in responsibilities or reporting structure depending upon the needs of the organization.
Acknowledge the relationship.
I’m not talking about throwing a party or putting it in the company newsletter – in fact, couples that come forward should be rest assured that their disclosure will remain confidential unless they choose otherwise.
Rather, HR or a manager should address the couple in order to make sure they understand the same expectations for professional behavior within the workplace still exist regardless of the nature of their relationship, and that they are expected to be discreet and respectful of the workplace.
Even though we would expect everyone to behave as adults in the workplace, sometimes we have to remind employees that simply because we permit romantic relationships in the workplace does not mean we permit romantic displays in the workplace.
Which, in turn, means you may have to acknowledge the breakup.
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