Employees dating at work

Should we date our co-workers or allow our employees to date each other?

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How do we keep it from interfering with work? Changes in the workplace have made romances between co-workers inevitable. Employees are working longer hours and have less time to socialize outside of work. The exchange of ideas, shared creativity and the teamwork approach fostered in entrepreneur-based enterprises also promote closer connections and lasting relationships — sometimes romantic ones.

Dating Your Employee

More than one-third of all employees meet their future partners while on the job, and for many, dating officemates is part of a balanced work life. Office romances aren't a business liability as long as there are policies and procedures in place to ensure that employees' personal lives remain personal and their work professional. The company should also have a policy regarding sexual harassment. In this Quick-Read you will learn: The pros and cons associated with workplace romances. Strategies for managing in-office relationships. Factors that identify sexual harassment. A rule forbidding fraternization of co-workers is deemed by most to be invasive, inappropriate and unnecessary.

Worry not about curtailing the office romance but about maintaining office professionalism and productivity. Recognize that romantic relationships between staff members may have a negative impact on job performance. The exclusive nature of a romantic relationship, if recognized, can threaten the involvement of other team members and lead to claims of favoritism or discrimination.

Personal problems between the couple can cause strain and difficulties with on-the-job communication, or lead to claims of stalking or harassment. A public break-up could cause other employees to "choose sides," creating tension for the whole office.

What you Need to Know about Dating in the Workplace

Avoid these problems by focusing on employee job performance. With the help of a lawyer and your human resources team, establish some workplace guidelines that specifically define what will happen if performance standards are not met and state how claims of sexual harassment are handled. Make sure all your employees are aware of these policies. Here are some strategies for managing romantic relationships in the office: Establish a rule that prohibits an employee from supervising a person they are dating. Encourage everyone to disclose romantic relationships that fall into this category so adjustments can be made to avoid the related risks.

Perhaps a change could be made in the reporting or organizational structure. List any jobs where romantic relationships could jeopardize the safety or integrity of other staff members and make the involved employees aware of those potential risks. It can be difficult to maintain friendships in the workplace.

Dealing With Personal Relationships at Work: Dating at Work | Edward Lowe Foundation

When an individual thinks his or her friendship with another co-worker is becoming too serious, that individual may start to avoid the other person. This would make it harder for the individual to maintain their friendship, which may cause tension in the environment. If an individual feels that a co-worker is pulling away from the friendship, that individual may use openness to attempt to maintain that friendship by confronting the other person and discussing why the relationship is deteriorating.

Parties using contradicting communication styles, pre-existing hostile work environments , and significant status differences are situations in which openness would not be an effective relational maintenance tactic. In the workplace, individuals cannot choose their co-workers. They can, however, choose who they want to have a professional relationship with and who they want to form a friendship with outside of work.

These friendships are distinguished from regular workplace relationships as they extend past the roles and duties of the workplace.


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Workplace loneliness can be caused by a lack of workplace friendships, competition, or a lack of cooperation at work. Lonely workers tend to become overly self-conscious and they may begin view their co-workers as untrustworthy members of the organization.

The Hawthorne effect grew out of a series of studies. The theory states that an individual will act differently than they normally would due to the individual's awareness of being watched. Specifically in McGregor's X and Y theory, it states that the manager's approach has effects on the outcome of the worker. Individuals who receive attention from their superior will have positive feelings of receiving special treatment. Specifically, they feel that the attention they are receiving is unique from the attention that other employees are receiving. Kohn and O'Connell point out 6 major habits of highly effective bosses.

It states that you should treat others as you wish to be treated. If workers know that their superiors are treating them with the same respect and dignity in which they are treating their superior, they will then feel more positive and inviting feelings in regard to their relationship.


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Other theories that explain the superior-subordinate relationships are workplace relationship quality, employee information experiences theory, and the leader-membership theory. Its main premise includes the idea that employees with the easiest access to information are the most likely to succeed. Romantic workplace relationships involve a certain degree of intimacy between coworkers. These connections can be categorized into three different classifications: A similar relationship type that often gets confused with workplace romance is work spouse , but this is an intimate friendship between coworkers rather than the actual marital relationship.

Romantic partnerships involve a strong emotional attachment and close connection between partners without sexual relations. Sexual partnerships are a partnership with a lack of an intimate connection, and instead include a strictly physical and sexual relationship. An example behavior of employees in a sexual relationship is online sexual activity OSA because of opportunity.

That chance may satisfy sexual distress, boredom, or many other reasons. Romantic workplace relationships play a complicated role not only for those involved in the relationship, but also for the employees working with these individuals. Romantic workplace relationships have been known to create polarization in the workplace, employee distraction, and feelings of awkwardness among other employees.

In fact, those who date superiors often lose trust from coworkers because of the possibility of 'unfair advantages' they might receive. Those involved, however, have had positive results in the workplace, such as increased performance, higher motivation, and higher overall job satisfaction. While face-to-face workplace interactions are common, romantic workplace relationships may also take place within emails.

In fact, emailing to communicate is used as much as face to face communication. Employees use email to communicate with their relational partners mainly because there are no regulations that say they cannot. Because romantic relationships in the office can cause problems, employees now have to face the consequences, regardless of if they are involved or not.

Notably, after the first workplace relationship was discovered, the employer provided the employee with a written warning to cease the behavior, but almost immediately after he ignored the warning and entered into a new inappropriate workplace relationship. This second relationship involved a very vulnerable junior subordinate. Thus, employers may be able to establish just cause for dismissal when dealing with relationships that cross power; however, employers cannot jump the gun on terminating an employee for just cause, and this will generally be extremely difficult for an employer to justify.

Whether you are an employee or employer, if you are uncertain about the legal implications of a workplace relationship, it is always a good idea to consult with a lawyer to determine the best course of action. Can an employer put a complete ban on office dating? Can engaging in an intimate relationship with a co-worker be grounds for termination from your employment? An Office Romance Gone Wrong A notable case touching upon the issue of what may constitute just cause for dismissal as a result of an inappropriate workplace relationship is Cavaliere v.

Having a full-out ban on workplace dating may have the effect of losing great employees. Click To Tweet Thus, employers may be able to establish just cause for dismissal when dealing with relationships that cross power; however, employers cannot jump the gun on terminating an employee for just cause, and this will generally be extremely difficult for an employer to justify. Tread very carefully when engaging in any romantic or otherwise promiscuous relations with a co-worker. The fall out of a workplace relationship can be humiliating and could damage your reputation.

Ensure you are aware of and understand any policies your employer may have regarding dating in the workplace or regarding real or potential conflicts of interest. If you are in a workplace relationship and are uncertain of how any such policies apply to your circumstances, it is always a good idea to consult with a lawyer or your HR representative to seek clarity; If a policy requires that you disclose the relationship, ensure you follow the outlined procedures and processes before it becomes too late i.

Such a policy should also outline procedures for reporting any such relationships on a confidential basis and clearly outline measures that could be implemented if a breach of the policy occurs; Having a full-out ban on workplace dating may have the effect of losing great employees and costing an employer in the long run. Just as employees must weigh the career risks of entering into workplace relationships, managers should assess the risk of pushing employees away with overly strict policies; Review, revise and update discrimination and harassment policies, and always investigate all claims of sexual harassment; Never jump the gun on terminating employees for the reason that they have engaged in an inter-office relationship.

Employers are likely able to implement less drastic measures i. The Severance Pay Calculator Accurate.