Workplace Romance-Love Story or Employer Nightmare?

Love is in the air! No matter where a person may be, love can strike at any time. Even at the workplace. Employers have no control over human nature, so a workplace romance policy is meaningless if two people really want to be together. According to a recent survey of 8,000 workers by the job-search website CareerBuilder.com, four out of 10 employees have dated someone at work; 17 percent have done it twice. Before getting into a workplace romance, an employee should know the company’s policies regarding office relationships, if one exist. If relationships are forbidden, there could be serious consequences to your career.

A policy may be enforceable with leadership positions. The last thing that an employer needs is one of their management personnel becoming involved with a subordinate. Things going sour between the two and the hurt employee may file a sexual harassment lawsuit against the employer. Employments can educate their management team by offering sexual harassment training. Make it clear that you discourage work place romance with a subordinate, and to use discretion and good judgment when making decisions that could affect the company overall. A rumor mill can quickly spread. This can also create problems among colleagues if others in the office think that someone is receiving special treatment or a promotion just because they are romantically involved with a supervisor.

What happens when the romance does not work out and the workers become hostile toward one another? This can cause serious problems at work such as verbal or even worse, a physical altercation. The two may even begin to slander one another, begin to behave unprofessionally. It can turn into a situation where one person does not want to come into work because they cannot face the other person. This can cause missed deadlines, failure to meet client expectations, and worst of all, letting down others in the workplace that depend on them. They may even go as far as trying to sabotage the other person’s reputation or work product.

The problem becomes more difficult in a smaller office because there are less options for the employer. It can be costly for small business owners to insure against it by purchasing employment practices liability insurance. It is recommend that small business owners purchase the policy because it covers employee lawsuits and attorney’s fees. Without it, small businesses can go bankrupt even if they are not at fault and they win the lawsuit.

Tips to Consider:

  • Be discreet
  • Review your office polices regarding workplace relationships if one exist
  • Do not engage in gossip
  • Avoid public displays of affection
  • Avoid a supervisor-subordinate relationship
  • Consider your career
  • Remain professional
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