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Writing the Rulebook on Office Relationships

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. A day dedicated to love and romance. That makes this a great time to talk about something many of us have experienced in some form. Office romances. We spend large portions of time at work.  Consequently, it’s quite common to become attracted to a co-worker. It’s nearly impossible to control a spark that occurs between two people. However, when it comes to dating within the office pool, problems of a larger scale can occur. As an employee, relationships on the job has its challenges. Employers may find some complications as well. That said, there are some precautions to take when it comes to love struck employees.

Banning office relationships may be a bit extreme and unrealistic. Employees could experience more stress in the workplace if they’re forced to conceal a relationship. Therefore, it’s important to have policies in place to protect the employer as well as the employee.

Relationships between a supervisor and subordinate are especially sketchy. This could lead to a variety of problems, misconceptions or accusations on the job. Fellow staff members may feel a supervisor is showing favoritism to the love interest. In turn, people in the office become resentful.

There are also times that a supervisor treats their romantic interest unfairly in an attempt to show they aren’t playing favorites. The person on the other end feels awful, affecting their job performance.

Then there’s the possibility of a nasty breakup.  It would be nice to think people would put their personal feelings aside at work, but it’s not realistic. Now you have awkwardness for the couple as well as the rest of the staff. A proactive solution, that may dissolve any potential issues down the road, is re-assigning one of the two involved to another department.

Another suggestion, to bypass future complications, is to get a signed agreement from the couple. This signed statement will establish that the relationship is consensual. This could avoid potential, legal repercussions in the event of a nasty split.

Attention should also be paid to a duo’s problems outside of work that makes its way into the office. If complications in the relationship arise, keeping it outside of work is vital. Be sure to encourage your employees to keep the lines of communication open with you. Personnel should feel comfortable letting you know if there’s an issue that’s affecting their work. Drama is an anecdote for productivity. If one person is seeing a problem, chances are there are others feeling the same way.

There’s no guarantee that issues will be averted even with policies in place.  However, it just may provide you a leg to stand on if there’s trouble in paradise.

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