Valentine’s Day Special: Romance in the Workplace

It’s becoming increasingly hard to find someone special in this technological world, which explains the momentous growth in the online dating industry, which used to be considered taboo. Another increasingly popular method of meeting a mate that used to be frowned upon, and is gradually becoming more acceptable within our society, is workplace romances. For those of us in HR, this leads to questions about in-office romance policies, as well as the ethics of dating in the workplace.

As traditional methods of meeting that special someone become fewer and fewer, the reality of workplace relationships is becoming more prevalent. Each workplace calls for different standards, but there’s a code of ethics that every workplace must stand by. Relationships that are purely sexual in nature, extra-marital affairs, and/or between a boss and their underling, should not be tolerated.  These types of relationships rarely end well, and pose too much of a threat to the company in the way of distraction and liability. Not to say these relationships won’t happen, but if a relationship that falls into any of these categories is brought to your attention, it is your job as an HR professional to take disciplinary actions.

Last year Career Builder released a report on office romances that had surprising numbers. 38% of those who participated in the survey admitted to having dated someone at the workplace. 31% said that their office romance led them to marriage. While most workers who were involved in an office romance were open about it with co-workers, a hefty 38% of them decided to keep their relationship a secret. Whether or not your company policy allows inter-office dating, it seems more than likely that it’s going to occur.

These kinds of numbers make it obvious that an all-out HR ban on office romance is probably futile. That said, there are certain boundaries that must be established in order to keep employees productive and avoid costly law-suits. By creating a policy that clearly draws the ethical lines in the sand, but also leaves some leeway for appropriate healthy relationships, you will save yourself the trouble of dealing with the after affects of an office romance gone wrong with no rules to go by. Happy Valentine’s Day readers, do something romantic today, whether or not you have a special someone!



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