On Valentine’s Day, we consider the effect of office relationships on organisations
Employers are likely to fear becoming liable when something goes wrong and some UK companies report that they have banned inter-office romances completely however, this may prove impossible to enforce.
Apparently 40% of workers have dated a colleague at some point, showing that this area is not so much about banning office romances but properly managing them. Realistically, a ban will not stop employees who want to be in a relationship from doing so secretly and this can lead to gossip and rumours circulating.
It’s important to recognise that workplace relationships can result in positive outcomes, such as an enhanced morale because employees want to go to work, and an increase in communication, creativity and energy.
However, employers should be aware of the threats they pose.
A senior-junior relationship can result in a loss of productivity and poor performance, due to distractions both mental and emotional, and may lead to others within the team making serious complaints about favouritism.
The risks of this relationship breaking down are quite high to the business, as the two individuals will remain within the same senior-junior positions at work. This could lead to tense atmospheres and even increased absenteeism due to the emotional strain of continuing in this employment relationship.
It is also vitally important to educate employees on sexual harassment policies. If people understand the context of sexual harassment as distinct from office romances, then this will reduce liability for companies should romantic involvements turn sour.