Minimize the risks associated with office romances; here are a few tips to keep in mind.
Every year around Valentine’s Day, offices across Arizona smell of freshly-delivered flowers and Belgian chocolates. But what if the person sending the flowers and chocolates works with you?
It’s not as uncommon as we’d like to think. In fact, an estimated 40 percent of U.S. workers have admitted to dating fellow employees — and another 40 percent would consider doing so now or in the future.
However romantic, taboo or thrilling it may seem, love in the workplace can be a nightmare for human resources executives and managers. First, it is hard to monitor. Second, it can make other employees uncomfortable – and jealous. Third, chances are the romance will end, and the office will suffer from lost productivity, decreased morale, increased gossip and more.
And perhaps most importantly, in extreme cases, the effects of a workplace romance gone wrong can lead to potential harassment and/or retaliation claims.
Some companies proactively work to prevent relationships in the workplace by instituting non-fraternization policies. It then becomes human resources’ responsibility to communicate the policy — and the consequences.
Most companies, however, are smart to take less extreme steps to minimize the risks associated with office romances. These include:
Love contracts are very specific. These written and signed documents act as confirmation that two employees’ romantic relationship is voluntary and that they both understand and know how to use their employer’s policies that forbid harassment in the workplace and provide mechanisms for reporting and solving problems. In many cases, love contracts have been especially effective in protecting the company if/when the relationship turns sour.
Though love contracts are not perfect — and not always popular — they do serve a significant purpose when it comes to preventing real problems. These contracts remind people that at one point the relationship they were in was welcomed and that they knew the relationship could be ended without adverse job consequences.