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
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.