When co-workers mix business with pleasure, it’s important for employers to take note.
With many of us spending more and more time at the office it’s not surprising that many working relationships blossom into something more intimate. Thing is, when you hire a bunch of passionate, engaging people, a couple of them are bound to hit it off in a way that goes beyond their shared interest in the business.
In fact, research carried out by CareerBuilder.com found that 38% of workers have dated a colleague at some point in their working lives. Yes, studies show that more than one third of employees meet their partners while on the job.
As an employer, you’d be right to be a little cautious about what the implications could be for your business. You’d be concerned about the impact this could have on your team, or what might happen if things turned sour. Some companies have an outright ban on office romance while other organisations take a relaxed stance towards co-workers dating, however, this could especially cause trouble when you cross into the realm of a manager-subordinate romantic relationship.
This kind of relationship could lead to claims of favouritism, while public shows of affection could cause co-workers to feel uncomfortable and create a hostile environment. Additionally, if the relationship ends, one of the employees may claim that the relationship was not consensual, leading to charges of sexual harassment. A recent Cosmopolitan survey made headlines when it reported that 1 in 3 women, ages 18-34, reported being sexually harassed at work. Like opening a can of worms, right?
“The focus of employers is to keep their employees effective and productive,” said Dean Debnam, CEO of Workplace Options. “If people are caught up in the drama or the whirlwind of a new romance, there is a legitimate concern how it might negatively impact productivity.”
So, does the so called “cupid contract” sound far-fetched? It’s more common than you think, this type of contract could protect your company should the romance take a turn for the worse. The idea is to create an office romance policy rather than waiting to deal with problems as they arise.
What would the “cupid contract” involve? Well, those who are an item should sign on the dotted line that they have entered the relationship voluntarily and that it won’t have an impact on their work performance. These “consensual relationship” contracts spell out that the liaison is mutually agreeable and consensual and that if, or when it reaches a breaking point, both parties are to resolve any disputes and avoid accusations of a sexual harassment nature.
No, you can’t legislate against office romances or falling in love, but you can put protocols in place for when relationships occur. If you’ve got these key areas covered, romance at work doesn’t have to leave you feeling stressed and uncertain about what to do.
It is important for employers to have clear policies in place to address conflicts of interest should love blossom in the office during this February.