Risks of dating a coworker

Just last month, Gary Friedman, the chief executive of Restoration Hardware, stepped down in the middle of the company's public offering. Friedman was not married, so there was no affair. She didn't even work there anymore!

Here's what to think about:

Earlier this year, Best Buy's chief executive, Brian Dunn, stepped down after an investigation by the board discovered he had shown "extremely poor judgment" with a year-old female employee. A couple years ago, Hewlett-Packard's chief executive, Mike Hurd, resigned amid accusations of falsifying expense reports to hide a personal relationship with an independent contractor. As companies grow and add employees, you will often see signs of budding workplace relationships.

This can be especially true in high-growth companies that demand long work hours and tend to hire more single employees. When your routine is work-sleep-work, going out to date does not seem like a real option for many.

According to the CareerBuilder survey, some industries are more prone to inter-office dating than others. Hospitality, Financial Services, Transportation and Utilities, Information Technology, and Health Services all topped the list as having higher than average office dating. As a business owner, you might ask: The legal issue is what I like to call the "amplification" of potential liability that always exists around the employer-employee relationship.


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There will foreseeably be claims of favoritism, or even discrimination or harassment. When a workplace romance sours, it can expose the company to increased liability, since the connection between alleged actors is easier to establish--essentially giving the plaintiff some good ammunition for his or her case.

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Relationships between supervisors and subordinates create even more potential problems. In a better scenario, coworkers would find it easier to claim that an employee received preferential treatment from a supervisor he or she is dating. In a poorer scenario, the relationship would end badly, one of the employees could claim that the relationship was non-consensual, or that sexual harassment existed. An employee could even make a case for unlawful retaliation if he or she receives a poor performance review from a former lover or if a co-worker receives a better evaluation from his or her boss.

There are a few different ways to manage this liability. When it comes to workplace dating policies, here are a few basic options:.

What Are the Dangers of Dating a Coworker? | Dating Tips

Generally, policies cover not only employees, but also contractors, vendors, suppliers, manufacturers, and the like. Essentially, any relationship between two people that could have a negative effect on the company if things sour, or if one party is able to improperly influence the other would fall under the policy. One last generally acceptable rule: Even if it does not violate a written policy, your boss the CEO or the board might not care, and view it as a lack of senior management acumen.

I tend to sound like a broken record when it comes to company policies. So here it goes again: In my opinion, failure to equitably enforce a corporate policy is often worse than not having one. When it comes to workplace dating policies, here are a few basic options: In fact, many of my clients' burgeoning relationships had their origins in the workplace -- not surprising given the amount of time people spend with each other at work.

If you're going to have a relationship with your colleague there are things you should and things you shouldn't do as you move forward. So, as you move forward, ask yourself: What impact will getting involved with said colleague have on you professionally and romantically?

7 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Date Your Coworker

Perceptions of favoritism may occur and there's also the potential fallout should things not work out. Sometimes dipping in the company ink simply isn't worth it. But like all endeavors of love, there's a risk and the possible payout is huge.

Dating In The Workplace - 4 Tips To Increase Chemistry & HR Dangers!

Know the company policy. Some organizations have a no fraternization policy.

What Are the Dangers of Dating a Coworker?

It's in place for a reason. It might be to protect information and respect the dynamic that exist between colleagues. Weigh the possible risk of getting involved with a colleague against human resource policy termination and impacting future employment. It can have the same effect on the other person, too.

If the former, then spend your time looking for other ways to pass the time: If the latter, that's a different story and there's a smart way to go about it. Make sure you're reading signals properly.


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