February is considered the month of love and Sunday is Valentine’s Day, so with many of us spending more and more time at the office, it’s no surprise that many working relationships blossom into something a little more intimate. In fact, research shows that more than a third of workers have dated a colleague at some point in their working lives.
Those individuals are in pretty good company as well, as just one power couple that met in the workplace is none other than Barack and Michelle Obama. Back in 1989, the pair met whilst they were spending time working at the same law firm in Chicago.
As an employer though, you’d be right to be a little cautious about what the implications could be for your business. If you suspect that there’s an office romance in the pipeline, you could be concerned about the impact that this could have on your team, or what might happen if things turn sour.
Although this year, Valentines Day is outside normal office hours, relationship issues can happen all year round so February is as good time as any to consider workplace best practice. Here’s what you need to know:
Accept that these things happen
It would be unreasonable to try to implement any kind of policy that banned romantic relationships between employees and most likely wouldn’t act as a deterrent anyway. If anything, you’d be simply creating a culture of secrecy and mistrust.
The bottom line here is that these things happen, and as a leader, you have to accept it.
Nip any problems in the bud ASAP
Public displays of affection are inappropriate in the workplace. Remember people are always watching and no one wants to see canoodling in the canteen, or have to navigate their way through a kissing couple just to get to the kettle.
If you do feel that boundaries are being crossed, you need to take action as soon as possible. Have a discreet word with both individuals, explain your worries, and remind them of what’s acceptable and what isn’t.
Consider the team as a whole
You’re probably not in the office all day, every day so in many ways, you only get a very limited snapshot of what’s going on, and how everyone’s interacting on a day-to-day basis. This means that you need to be extra vigilant when it comes to monitoring sentiment.
Of course, this is a larger issue surrounding workplace culture, and it covers more than just office romances. Keeping your finger on the pulse and collecting meaningful, insightful feedback from your staff on a regular basis will ensure that you’re creating a productive, motivated, and happy workforce – if, of course, you’re taking action on your findings.
Don’t take sides if things go wrong
Many employers worry about the potential fallout of office relationships turning sour. And it’s essential that you’re prepared for the worst-case scenario. Stay impartial, try to exercise a degree of understanding and sympathy, but make sure that you keep overall business objectives and priorities in sight.
Of course, it’s vital that you can recognise the difference between a break-up and something more sinister. Your policies and procedures on serious matters such as sexual harassment and bullying should be robust, and always implemented.
If you’ve got these key areas covered, romance at work doesn’t have to leave you feeling stressed out and uncertain about what to do for the best.
But if you feel you need to ensure that you’re prepared for anything, outlining ground rules in your Company handbook is essential and HR Revolution can help, get in touch and talk to one of our HR Consultants today to see how we can help!