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Office Romance 101

How to handle office romance

It’s February and love is in the air… and on the T.V., in advertisements, grocery stores and billboards.  Markers of the approaching chocolate and rose fest of Valentine’s Day are basically everywhere you look –  they may even pop up in your office. Whatever your opinion on it, office romance happens and poses many questions and challenges for business owners.

Office Romance: The Naked Truth

Did you know, according to an office romance survey by vault.com, that 59% of people have admitted to being involved in an office romance?  And 63% of those who have engaged in office relationships stated that they would be more than willing to do it again.

So, if you’re reading this at work don’t peer into the office and assume that over half of your employees are hooking up, just be aware that with many people spending about a third of their day at the office, an office romance may happen more often than people think.

Small Business: A Love Story

Each business, big or small, has the challenge of setting their own boundaries for office romance while doing so in a fashion that doesn’t cause a high level of resentment from employees. It’s a balance that many businesses have to figure out for themselves.

So, it is somewhat safe to say that if your office employs a few hundred or a few thousand people and they are divided up into many departments and figure heads, then an office romance may not get noticed or make anyone else uncomfortable.

But what about small business office romance? There are many small businesses or smaller branches of larger corporations with 30 or less employees. Small business office romance will most likely get noticed and supervisors need to be prepared.

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Will an office romance affect productivity? Will they create uncomfortable environments for the rest of the office? Will employees resent others who engage in office romance?

Surveys show when most of these questions were asked a fair amount of folks, almost half for every question, were affected negatively from an office relationship. This is not always the case, but every business should have some guideline on office romance. Vague or specific, there should be something in place in case a situation arises.

What’s Your Office Romance Policy?

  • A fraternization policy should be written, posted and enforced equally among employees of different positions and ranks.
  • Instead of prohibiting a certain situation all together, list possible negative outcomes of that situation. Employees will have to be accountable for their own actions.
  • If you feel any persons with a higher rank should not date subordinates, you can clearly state this and list possible negative outcomes or consequences of this action.
  • Encourage employees to have a confidential conversation with your HR department if they feel the office romance policy is unclear.
  • Include a sexual harassment clause and differentiate between harassment and general interest between two co-workers.

It is the decision of each individual business owner to determine how small business office romance should be handled, but whatever the policy or policies may be, they should be listed and accessible to all employees before a situation occurs.

Remember, you want to think about the best interest and morale of your employees, as well as what is in the best interest of business.  Need a little help guiding your HR policies?  Give the G&A Partners HR policy team a call and we’ll help you help you craft a policy that everyone can love on.

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Photo used under a Creative Commons license from Flickr users Eric MC Hammer and Rainbow Photos

4 responses to “Office Romance 101”

  1. Katie says:

    I appreciate companies that have policies (not firing threats) to help employees in relationships interact at the office. While some office romances can be kind of awkward (hello The Office), it’s so much worse when they are trying to hide it. Puts lots of people in difficult situations.

  2. Taylor Rumsey says:

    To me it is generally not a good idea to get involved with co-workers. When that relationship goes wrong it will immediately affect your quality of work, and comfort in the workplace.

  3. Sergio says:

    I agree with this quote: “Include a sexual harassment clause and differentiate between harassment and general interest between two co-workers”. I also believe people will judge each situation differently depending on who is involved and their rank in the company.

  4. Dane says:

    I have mixed feelings on this, but at the end of the day, work is work. If you’re not fully engaged in your work, then you are wasting your time and your employer’s money. An office romance that affects your ability to get things done as well as you did before the romance is a bad situation and should be reevaluated.

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