With the hours American workers spend at the office, it is no wonder that many romances today begin in the workplace. A recent CareerBuilder survey reported that 22% of all relationships begin at work, many of which end in marriage. While that statistic is promising for singles, sexual harassment, hostile work environments, and the resulting potential employee turnover are all hard-hitting matters that businesses need to be aware of when love blossoms at work. The following are some recommendations:
* Dating / fraternizing policies – Most companies have an employee handbook, yet many don’t include a policy on dating or fraternizing. While these policies are virtually impossible to enforce proactively they still serve as a great tool when reacting to the discovery of an office romance, especially those between manager and subordinate. A well-written professionally drafted policy will put an employer in a position of greater strength when faced with such a predicament.
* The minefield that is an office romance – Other employees will often find the romantic behavior distracting. Throw in in the fairly likely event that the parties involved break up and the distraction value grows. Add to the mix a bad break up and a scorned party seeking revenge in the form of a harassment claim and you have the imperfect storm.
* What’s a manager to do?– When a member of management becomes aware of an office romance they have only one good move – head straight for HR. Even HR is likely to call an employment lawyer for advice. If there are 10 possible ways to handle this situation it is likely that 8 of them could get the business in trouble.
* What if I am talking about you? – Employees who find themselves in an office romance should expect trouble if co-workers discover the situation. If keeping the matter discreet is not in the cards then head to HR. Openly admitting the relationship exists will spare you and your employer the pain of an embarrassing investigation and possibly even a termination and instead lead to some mutually discussed options.
David Lewis is the President / CEO of Operations Inc. who has been featured in national publications such as The New York Times, Inc., Forbes and others.
Link to NBC Connecticut live interview: http://youtu.be/dTcD4XYIk1Q
Link to David’s bio: http://www.operationsinc.com/staff/david-lewis
Link to Press Page: http://www.operationsinc.com/media-coverage