Where’s the number one spot to meet singles in your area? Chances are, it’s work. And with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, there are probably plenty of cases of workplace romance brewing.
While one can say that alls well that ends well for Pam and Jim in that fictional Scranton office, real life scenarios for dating and romantic relationships at work bring far more drama to the office than situational comedy. 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. Typical responses toward workplace romance relationships in the office include:
1. Prohibiting Workplace Romance: Many companies simply forbid romantic relationships among employees. However, while that works on paper, it’s not a realistic solution. For one, the relationships will go on with or without company approval – all this approach will do is keep management out of the loop, and therefore are unable to manage any portion of the relationship as it relates to the work environment. Second, employees often feel that their personal lives are being dictated by management with this approach, which does not lend itself to a positive and productive work environment.
2. Ignoring the Workplace Romance: Many employers either don’t want to encourage the drama, or they really don’t care who is dating whom. These companies choose to remain silent on the subject, perhaps even hoping that if there is no policy at all, they can’t be held responsible for anything that happens in regard to the workplace romance. However, workplace romances can cause a lot of grief for organizations. They can be distractions during the work day, whether because of the couple fawning over own another or the gossip involved. Conservative customers may not share your casual attitude and may choose to go elsewhere. An atmosphere that encourages interoffice dating must take the interoffice flirting that goes along, and some employees may not want to be a part of it – sexual harassment and sex discrimination charges will flourish without boundaries. Last but not least, when the relationships end, the tension in the office can become so severe that you risk not only losing one of the people involved in the breakup, but other employees who simply don’t want to deal with the drama anymore.
3. Allowing the WorkPlace Romance, With Clear Boundaries: Obviously, neither of the first two options are the way to go. This only leaves us with a third option: Moderation. There is no doubt that workplace romances will develop – in fact, many people do meet their significant others at work. The key is not to stop what will happen naturally, but to manage workplace romance within the boundaries of your culture.
So, what rules do you establish? Please, leave us a comment with your suggestions. How would you address workplace romance?