Dating apps might be considered the modern way to find a partner, but plenty of people still find love at work. According to a study by Approved Index, 65% of office workers have been involved in at least one office romance during the course of their career. And that’s hardly surprising. Many of us see our coworkers much more than we see our family and friends, so it’s natural that working relationships sometimes turn into much more.
But as the boss, relationships between your coworkers can seem like a disaster waiting to happen. So with Valentine’s Day coming up, it’s a great time to think about what your approach should be, if a couple of your employees start an office romance.
Be a realist and keep calm
Plenty of workplace relationships have a happy ending, and in the majority of circumstances, you’re going to experience no problems whatsoever if your workers start seeing each other romantically away from the office. Your staff are likely to want to be discreet, and there’s usually no need for any intervention whatsoever on your behalf.
Nip any problems in the bud
It would be hugely inappropriate for your staff to share a kiss over the photocopier. If a line manager starts showing preferential treatment to a team member because of their relationship outside the office, that’s a problem. Similarly, gossip could get out of hand and create a bad atmosphere.
When something like this happens, it’s important that you act quickly and seek to find a suitable resolution. Sometimes, that could be as simple as having a quiet word with the members of staff involved. There’s rarely a case when just doing nothing and hoping that everything sorts itself out is a wise approach. Where relevant, always act in accordance with your people policies.
Take harassment claims seriously
There’s a very big difference between a consensual relationship and unwanted advances. As an employer, you have a legal obligation to ensure that you take harassment claims seriously, and act swiftly. If you don’t already have a policy that covers exactly how you’ll handle any such matters, then it’s vital you get that covered.
The policy should be clear and well communicated, and it’s essential that your line managers have the skills, understanding, and confidence to see that it’s enforced. If a member of staff came to you today and claimed they were being sexually harassed, would you know exactly what to do? If NOT, this needs to take a top spot on your to do list.
Managing and leading people is complex business. We all need to recognise that we’re not dealing with robots here. Emotions and relationships and affairs of the heart might not strictly be your line of business. However when you’re running the show, they’re things that you’ll probably have to deal with at one point or another. It doesn’t have to be a drama, but it does have to be something that you’ve considered.