Valentine’s Day is less than a month away, so our thoughts are turning to ‘romance at work’ and the questions that subject raises. During a working week we spend up to half of our waking time with our work colleagues, so it’s not surprising that close friendships and romantic relationships form.
We all know people in long-term relationships with partners they met at work. Whilst personal relationships can cause issues, it’s probably unrealistic to ban personal relationships at work. If you introduce a ban, it would inevitably force budding romances and friendships to become covert. This would lead to an environment of mistrust, deception and fear. However it would be unwise to stay silent on how you deal with relationships as an employer. So, what is the best way to approach them?
Developing a policy
Here are 6 top tips for a developing a policy:
- Be Realistic. Focus on transparency and create a working environment where your employees can be open with you.
- Be Specific. Define the point employees need to declare a relationship beyond that of a good working relationship – be it a close friendship or a romantic relationship.
- Be Cautious. Include clients, suppliers and customers in the policy.
- Be Fair. Ensure you are clear about the possible outcomes of declaring a relationship. For example in a management relationship, allow for a change to reporting lines.
- Be Professional. Clearly communicate expectations about professional conduct, i.e. public displays of affection and favouritism.
- Be Prepared. Accept that sometimes relationships don’t work out, and this too will need to be managed appropriately.
Following these top tips will ensure your policy is realistic and practical, and will ensure your business isn’t compromised by relationships at work.
So, while things can go wrong and issues may arise, having a clear policy will make it easier to take a fair and consistent approach, with the least disruption to your business.
If you would like help developing a policy about managing personal relationships at work, please get in touch.