Office romances may be hard to avoid. In a climate where colleagues spend a great deal of time together in the office setting, it may set the stage for blossoming office romances.However, managers should be concerned when a romance between a supervisor and subordinate causes other employees to feel resentful about the fairness of evaluations and rewards. If employees suspect favoritism, they’re less likely to work as hard. Productivity suffers. The last thing you want is to have a hostile work environment or a lawsuit filed. In order to prevent this, PrideStaff Financial offers some sound steps to handle office romances.
Get the 4-1-1 on sexual harassment.
First and foremost, make sure your legal and HR teams are up to speed on the latest sexual harassment legislation. These teams should be front and center making sure that every employee, including top brass, are educated and trained on how to deal with sexual harassment, what it looks like, and steps to take. No one should ever feel they have nowhere to turn if this is happening to them. The education may help people understand what truly constitutes sexual harassment. Office romances don’t apply—unless one party feels their job is at jeopardy if they don’t.
Set office boundaries for all employees.
Office romances are going to happen, but that doesn’t mean everyone wants to see the couple’s PDA 24/7 while at work. Politely set some basic boundaries for all employees and management to follow regarding the “if’s” and “when’s” of an office romance and how to conduct oneself professionally while at work. This sends a clear message that while you as the boss understand that these things happen, there are clear guidelines that should be followed out of respect for all personnel. This should also cover break-ups that may occur, indicating that personal issues from an office romance should not cause a disruption for others at work. There should be a zero-tolerance policy for romantic “drama” to disrupt coworkers in the work setting.
Meet with your legal team.
In order to avoid lawsuits, talk to your legal team about how to support staff and potential office romances without allowing the romance to cause strife or discord among other staffers. Setting up a confidential ethics hotline is a great place to start. This allows employees the chance to quietly and confidentially report anything inappropriate (set the guidelines on what is considered inappropriate beforehand) that could put the company at risk.
Open the door.
Sweeping this topic under the rug or on the other end of the extreme, creating too many policies about office romance being off limits will do nothing to stop the inevitable. In one instance you may set yourself up for some rather lengthy lawsuits, and in the other, you create an atmosphere of animosity, distrust, and even high turnover. The best way to deal with office romances is to be honest—they happen and will continue to do so because we’re all human. Set up a plan that covers your company in the circumstance a romance goes sour or favoritism takes place. Training employees on what is acceptable office culture and how staff should conduct themselves while at work needs to be outlined. And always leave your door open. If two employees know things are serious or about to be, knowing they can go to their boss to communicate it will go a long way.
PrideStaff Financial is one of the nation’s leading recruiting firms. Our financial staffing consultants can help you navigate the latest topics and issues in the workplace. Contact us today to learn more.