Tweak Your Biz » Management » Cupid: Coming to a Workplace Near You!

Cupid: Coming to a Workplace Near You!



Here it comes again. St.Valentine’s Day. Flower, card and gift shops are gearing up for the bonanza that this unique celebration of all things romantic yields.  Up and down the country, a frenzy of delivery vans will drop their bounty off at lucky lovers’ doors.  Some of these doors might even belong to your place of work.

Workplace romance happens.  Nice or nightmare?  Heaven or hell?  If two colleagues are smitten with each other things may get hot under the collar.  Can anything be done to prevent the temperature from rising to fever pitch?

Advice For The Boss

Do

  • Accept that (according to The Guardian last year) around one in five people marries a co-worker.
  • Remember that half of all work-place romances end within three months.
  • Exercise control by having good, clear, documented and circulated policies for all workers on issues such as equality, equal opportunity, dignity & diversity, bullying & harassment, and confidentiality.
  • Expect all of your workers to always abide by the code of conduct outlined in these and in other company policies and guidelines.
  • If you really feel the need, have a Guideline for Workplace Relationships which deals with specific issues such as manager/subordinate relationships; inappropriate physical contact or language; relationships within teams.
  • Keep an eye on everyone – workplace relationships may sometimes impact co-workers negatively.

Don’t:

  • Panic. Office romances are normal and can be a sign of a happy and positive organisational culture.
  • Try to ban or prevent workplace liaisons entirely, you’ll just drive them underground where you may have little chance of controlling them.
  • Tolerate unacceptable or inappropriate workplace behaviour.
  • Ever wait until the annual or quarterly performance review meeting to implement your staff policies or address misconduct – do this immediately if and when the need arises.
  • Allow workers in a relationship to interview, promote, performance-manage or dismiss each-other.

Advice for the Couple

Consider being honest with your boss and colleagues

Do

  • Find out if your employer has a code of conduct, policy or guideline relating to co-worker relationships (and abide by them obviously!).
  • Understand that if you do breach company policy you may suffer consequences.
  • Consider being honest with your boss and colleagues about your relationship – otherwise you may risk losing their trust.
  • Remember that employers keep records (think IT and telephone systems!).
  • Be aware and prepared that eventually you’ll probably be the subject of some office gossip.

Don’t

  • Be overtly demonstrative with, or embarrass your partner at work.
  • Use nick-names, pet-names or terms of endearment for each other in front of colleagues.
  • Exchange personal emails or phone calls using office technology.
  • Wash your dirty laundry in public – always keep your personal and work lives separate.
  • Be surprised at the mixed reactions of your colleagues to your relationship.
  • Forget to be careful what you say or display on social media platforms if you are friends with, connected to, following or followed by work-colleagues.



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The Author:

Miriam is a certified management consultant who specialises in organisational development, change management and general management practice. She founded Align Management Solutions in 2001. If you find yourself stuck, frustrated or a bit lost in your business, Miriam can help you find your way back to progress and profitability. http://www.alignmanagement.net

Add Your Comment

  • http://www.btbtraining.com/blog Niall Devitt

    Miriam, What a great post! one in five people marry a co-worker eh! to be expected I suppose seeing as we spend more time with our fellow workers than our family and friends. Office romance is not something that many managers think about but as you point its nothing to be feared and indeed is actually a sign of a positive working environment. I think that the one place that can be more challenging is when the romance is between the manager and team member but perhaps I shouldn’t go there :) Happy Valentines Everybody!

  • http://twitter.com/MiriamAhern Miriam Ahern

    Thanks Niall. Yes, workplace romances can be an indication of a friendly and healthy working environment. The big difficulty for long-established couples, however, is that they have double financial exposure to the success or otherwise of the enterprise. At some stage it may be worth considering spreading this risk by seeking alternative employment.

  • Anonymous

    Nice post Miriam and some good advice. Had some experiences when I wish the couples involved had your “don’t” list.

    P

  • http://twitter.com/aharbourne Andrew Harbourne-Tho

    Employer code of conduct: A previous company I worked for had a policy of “no nepotism” – i.e. if you had a relative working for the company, you couldn’t work for the company – period. Logic was that it missed out on some good candidates, but also missed out on all duds. It was policy – zero exceptions.

    Except in Dublin, where we had a couple who joined separately soon after it started here and only afterwards got engaged/married. No rule broken, technically, but an issue.

    Some time after I left, there was a round of redundancies and I heard both were selected for redundancy. Dilemma for the company exec who travelled over with the list: both husband and wife were reported as selected for redundancy. Something that was not expected, as the company policy, in theory, should have ensured nothing like this could happen. Thankfully local HR raised issue an hour or so before the meeting.

    Result: one name was removed from the list. Moral: sometimes, no matter what you legislate for, the unexpected happens. Thankfully, more often than not, met with common sense and a little humanity. However, we always hear about the exceptions.

    I hope managers facing this situation in their work environment use a little common sense and if they need help – re-read your article.
    Thanks Miriam.

  • http://twitter.com/MiriamAhern Miriam Ahern

    Thank you Paul. As HR director or a large co earlier in my career, I also saw some hair-raising love-at-work disasters.

  • http://twitter.com/MiriamAhern Miriam Ahern

    Of course you are absolutely right Andrew. You can legislate as much as you want but the real test of a good manager is being able to cope with the unusual or unexpected. As you mentioned, common sense and humanity should always be to the fore in such situations. Sometimes a little humour (used with care!) helps too.

  • Anonymous

    Niall:nnThanks for including me at #4 on the list.nnRob

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    My pleasure Rob, great article! Thanks for writing :)

  • http://tommy.ismy.name Tommy is my name

    Hey thanks for sharing! :-) I’m glad you liked it!

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    My pleasure Tommy, that’s some great FB advice!

  • http://tommy.ismy.name Tommy is my name

    stay tuned. I’ve only scratched the surface…

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    :) That’s what I like to hear

  • http://twitter.com/_secretgarden_ Brian

    Hi Sian,

    Having an online retail presence also gives our customers a shop window and we have found that they may not always purchase online but will come up the garden centre which has made us a destination garden centre rather than just a local garden centre.

    Brian

  • http://www.sianphillips.ie/ Sian Phillips

    Thanks Brian – that’s a great point too. And I know your Garden Centre is definitely worth a visit :)

  • http://www.sianphillips.ie/ Sian Phillips

    Thanks Anne – it’s good to know it does work

  • Torihawthorne

    Great post Sian,
    A town near me has seen a run of small businesses closing down, changing hands and changing what they sell. I did some Market Research there for a Client and found over 1/3 of the shops didn’t have en email, let alone an online presence. The responses from many were that they didn’t want to change how they had always done things, it seemed to be a fear. There’s a business idea there, to help local/boutique style shops to get online, show them how easy it is and the benefits.
    Great post, I’d forgotten about ‘fizzy-pop wagons’ ;)
    Tori

  • http://www.sianphillips.ie/ Sian Phillips

    Thanks Tori – there’s an idea for you saleswoman extraordanaire :) And fizzy pop wagon – the Corona man delivered Dandelion & Burdock – highlight of my week lol

  • http://www.cgonlinemarketing.com/ Christina Giliberti

    Its sad to hear Sian, but then everything in business is about reacting to the changing trends in the marketplace. In five years time, who knows what will happen – we could be selling on the moon!

    I would just like to say that there are many alternative option, but that having your own website is always a benefit. I also believe that if you are going to compete online, you should make the effort to build a professional looking site. This is especially important for online retail as trust is a deciding factor to whether you purchase or not.

    I agree that Ebay is a great way to start selling.

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    Great advice, Sian! I’d add that local businesses need to work together (Local Heroes is a super template) to become greater than the some of their parts, collaboration is the new competition :)    

  • http://www.sianphillips.ie/ Sian Phillips

    Good idea Niall 

  • http://www.sianphillips.ie/ Sian Phillips

    Thanks for the suggestion Tina – I completely agree a professional site is definitely worth it

  • Deirdre Wyvern

    I’ve said it elsewhere before but most businesses should have a fairly up-to-date website with the minimum of opening hours and phone number on it, that’s easily navigable by mobile, even if all you have is a Hairdressers or coffee shop, I regularly try to check whether or not somewhere is open when I’m heading for the city centre after work to plan a shopping route.

    Remember, as well, that what people call your shops location may not agree with the physical address of the shop, make sure people can find you, particularly if you have a few locations, how do you tell people how to find the shop? that makes it less impersonal to a browser, they make a personal connection to it, particularly if they’re emigrants.  Listen to customers or ask them how they notice/guide people to the shop.

    Have a history piece on your website, if your shop is old, all the better, if not, why not have a history of the location? Particularly if there was a similar shop and the reason you opened was because you had a personal connection with the site “when I realised that xyz sweet shop that I loved going to closed I had to open something, in respect of my memories of that shop, we make Love-Heart cupcakes (picture), many of our regulars love to share their memories as they pick up the cakes.”  This anchors the shop in people’s psyches.  

  • http://www.sianphillips.ie/ Sian Phillips

    Thanks for the comment Deirdre – you have some great suggestions

  • http://twitter.com/TheRetailProj The Retail Project

    I agree that every retailer should have an online shop, but I think the high street is far from doomed. Amazon are opening high street stores, Google is opening a high street store in Dublin, Apple have high street stores. On the face of those big names one could suggest that the opposite is happening – online is coming to a high street near you!

    Where I live in Kilcullen the high street is booming because there are some unique and beautiful shops – a butchers that has it’s own slaughter house and sells the best meat in Ireland, 2 or 3 artisan food shops, a baker, a vegetable shop, a haberdashery, a sweet shop, a boutique florist, a shoe repair shop, a few good eateries, and a saddlery. I can’t see any of those shops being put out of business by online (but I do think they should be online as well).On the other hand for reasons I don’t understand there are many villages in Ireland where you have a butcher that only sells 5 cuts of meat, a load of Spar type shops, a crusty looking coffee shop, and a petrol station. No wonder people go to Tesco or go online.

    Great article – I just think it should look at why the high street is losing out rather than assuming it is because online is inevitably going to dominate because it is intrinsically better – it is not – it is just an alternative or even a complimentary outlet. Crappy online stores will go out of business as fast as crappy offline stores!

    I do have a vested interest – http://theretailproject.com/

  • http://twitter.com/TheRetailProj The Retail Project

    I agree that every retailer should have an online shop, but I think the high street is far from doomed. Amazon are opening high street stores, Google is opening a high street store in Dublin, Apple have high street stores. On the face of those big names one could suggest that the opposite is happening – online is coming to a high street near you!

    Where I live in Kilcullen the high street is booming because there are some unique and beautiful shops – a butchers that has it’s own slaughter house and sells the best meat in Ireland, 2 or 3 artisan food shops, a baker, a vegetable shop, a haberdashery, a sweet shop, a boutique florist, a shoe repair shop, a few good eateries, and a saddlery. I can’t see any of those shops being put out of business by online (but I do think they should be online as well).On the other hand for reasons I don’t understand there are many villages in Ireland where you have a butcher that only sells 5 cuts of meat, a load of Spar type shops, a crusty looking coffee shop, and a petrol station. No wonder people go to Tesco or go online.

    Great article – I just think it should look at why the high street is losing out rather than assuming it is because online is inevitably going to dominate because it is intrinsically better – it is not – it is just an alternative or even a complimentary outlet. Crappy online stores will go out of business as fast as crappy offline stores!

    I do have a vested interest – http://theretailproject.com/

  • http://www.sianphillips.ie/ Sian Phillips

    Thanks for your reply. It’s great news to hear the shops in your town are doing so well. Your last suggestion is a good idea for a blog post for you to write – I’d look forward to reading it :)

  • http://www.bloggertone.com Niall Devitt

    What a great post, Helen! Talk about making me see spreadsheets in a new light :)

  • http://www.theexecutivesuite.com/blog/ Warren Rutherford

    Helen – you make me smile. I’ve too many horror stories to share:).  I realized some time ago the necessity to have my formulas checked – and then the input performed by those who love to work on spreadsheets and accounting software.  You have a great talent for this and I applaud you for it – as well as explaining in layman’s terms how to monitor otherwise simple errors.  Thanks.

  • http://www.smartsolutions.ie/blog/ Elaine Rogers

    Helen, a super article – thanks for highlighting the vulnerability and volatility of spreadsheets and their users!!
    =20+15*2  – A most common error in spreadsheets is lack of knowledge of simple mathematics. Some would use this simple formula to return an answer of 70, however a spreadsheet will return 50. No amount of auditing/checking will proof something like this.

    I had a client who used Excel for accounting – when moving over to an accounts package, they realised they had not invoiced for 2 contracts!! OK it was only 1000 Euros, but that is a lot of money to be missing out of a small business cash flow!

    Again, thanks for highlighting. Self taught spreadsheet users can be the most dangerous kind, especially when they mentor others!

  • Lewis

     Elaine, I don’t really get your example :) Of course 50 is the right answer to the formula. So that would be an incentive in the use of spreadsheets, or what? :)
    We also get LOTS of mistakes with spreadsheets. I mean, mistakes are bound to happen, even with the best of us. Everybody gets distracted or tired sometimes and either you get someone to double check somebody else’s work and someone to triple check that or you have to deal with a margin of error. That said, basic training should be required in every company where Excel or such are largely used (the most of them, actually), which unfortunately doesn’t happen very often.

  • http://www.smartsolutions.ie/blog/ Elaine Rogers

    Hi Lewis,
    You are reading the formula one way. Imagine if you wanted to add 20 and 15, and then multiply the result by 2? Basic mathematics and understanding the syntax of a formula would alert us to apply brackets to the aspect of the formula we wish to have calculated together ie. =(20+15)*2 this will return the correct answer of 70. However, if someone does not know or understand these simple principles, they will receive the incorrect result (50) and may not think to check it at all.

    This is such a common yet fundamental issue, I see it in training every day. Precedence in formulae needs to be taught, thankfully this is becoming less of a problem over time. You have hit the nail on the head “basic training should be required in every company…” the very ones to slip through the net are small business owners.

  • http://twitter.com/xcelbusiness Helen Cousins

    Sounds like you have a good delegation plan in place. Thanks Warrren for you kind comments, I’m delighted that I made you smile!
    ~ Helen

  • http://twitter.com/xcelbusiness Helen Cousins

    Thanks Niall :)
    ~Helen

  • http://twitter.com/xcelbusiness Helen Cousins

    Realising that your spreadsheets are need to be checked for error is half the battle, so many people don’t and place blind faith in them. Glad you enjoyed the article, thank you.
    ~ Helen

  • http://twitter.com/xcelbusiness Helen Cousins

    Thanks Lewis, great to see you having a debate with Elaine here!
    ~ Helen

  • http://twitter.com/xcelbusiness Helen Cousins

    Thanks for your illustration and comments Elaine. Maths does indeed let a lot of people down. However, it should be noted almost all of the mistakes I have cited in my article were made in very large organistions by highly trained people. In fact, one of the mistakes was made by a person holding a degree in Maths and Computer Science and who is a trainer at expert level in MS Office Products including Excel.Scary isn’t it?~ Helen