How to handle office romances

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 carried out by CareerBuilder.com found that 38% 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.

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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.

February is the month of love, so it’s a great time to consider some best practice on this subject. Without any further ado, 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 altogether and it is unlikely that it would act as a deterrent. 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 aren’t appropriate in the workplace. No one wants to see canoodling by the canteen, or have to navigate their way through a kissing couple just to get to the kettle. Luckily, most couples will know this already, and will often do everything they can to make sure that there are no awkward moments for their colleagues.

If you do feel that boundaries are being crossed though, 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 long, every day of the week. 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 need any further advice or guidance to make sure that you are prepared for any eventuality call +44 203 538 5311 or email: hello@hrrevolution.co.uk or visit www.hrrevolution.co.uk  where our expert CIPD HR professionals are waiting to help you with any questions you may have.

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