When Business Meets Pleasure

Relationships at work, should they be allowed?

With Valentines day just around the corner I thought I would give some thought to the subject ‘love at work.’ Given the amount of time we spend at work, (insert stats) its no surprise that love may blossom. Could it be the way ‘he’ presents with PowerPoint presentation or the way ‘she’ leads and manages her team, or those simple chats at the water cooler? Whatever the incident, its true to say that things can lead from the workplace to the bedroom. This real life case study exemplifies this quite nicely.

Elena was a senior customer service rep at a Communications company and during her training session caught the attention of a young sales rep – Simon. After he pursued her for three months, she finally gave up and succumbed to his advances. Fast-forward 6 years later, they are now happily married and eagerly awaiting the arrival of their first child.

Sounds lovely…..right? but this case poses a number of issues for an employer that’s worth addressing. Elena was the new line manager of Simon and was responsible for his performance review and also involved in his promotion. This could have easily been seen as a misuse of power. So what can employers do?

It’s fine to have a policy in place which provides guidance on personal behaviour and conduct but it should not be intrusive. Staff are entitled to have a private life.

If a relationship ensues, between a senior and junior member of staff, consider moving them to different departments if the organisation size allows this. Be prepared to offer sound reasons why this move would be beneficial for them as well as the businesses.

Don’t even consider sacking either party because of the affair. Employees with at least two years service can make a complaint of unfair dismissal to an employment tribunal.

We don’t live in a draconian age banning relationship altogether which may well be in breach of the Human Rights Act 1998 but employers should consider if:

  • Staff are likely to be made uncomfortable because they are aware of the existence of the Personal relationships.
  • The personal relationship will get in the way of the how the business is seen and represented to clients/customers/members
  • The relationship will cause a possible conflict of interest and/or favouritism within teams and departments?

If you would like a free copy of a ‘Relationship at Work’ Policy, please get in contact.

Michelle Raymond ~ HR Consultant ~ Career Coach ~ and everything else in between!

With Valentines Day, just around the corner, I wanted to share some tips for employers on managing personal relationships at work. We spend an average of 39.2 hours a week, about 1842 hours per year, assuming 5 weeks holiday per year – working, so it’s no wonder the affairs of the heart ensues. But for employers this could be a relationship nightmare.

Here’s three things you should consider:

  • Does the personal relationship or affair impact other staff members?
  • Does the relationship pose an unfair advantage for either party ie. Promotion, performance mgt?
  • Does the relationship impact the business, it clients or customers?

There’s no need to be draconian – A simple policy with guidelines on how to conduct oneself at work will help you manage love in the office.

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