Like it or not, workplace romances spring up all the time. We’ve all heard stories or seen it for ourselves. The evidence is more than anecdotal.
Findings published in a Workplace Romance Survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) showed:
- Forty-three percent of HR professionals reported romances in their workplaces
- Twice as many employers have a written or verbal policy on workplace romances now than did in 2005
- Of organizations that have workplace romance policies, 99 percent do not permit a romance between a supervisor and a subordinate
- 67 percent of suspicions about workplace romance are generally revealed through office gossip
- More than 50 percent of HR professionals reported that employees got married or became long-term partners as a result of romances in their workplaces
Although not always intentional, the workplace is often where people end up meeting their mate. You share common interests; you may spend a significant amount of time together and get to know each other pretty well. And let’s face it: the laws of attraction cannot be stopped by a policy. Biology has its own agenda.
Office romances, however, you may feel about them, are not going away. Neither are concerns about favoritism, sexual harassment claims, retaliation, poor morale and reduced job satisfaction. So, what’s an employer to do?
Does your organization have a workplace dating policy?
Policies on dating are helpful to have because being unprepared for this type of scenario makes responding to them a riskier endeavor. The situations can sometimes get sticky. The issues of jealousy, affairs, breakups and so on leave supervisors and HR with messy situations that cause headaches, wasted time, the loss of valuable employees and the potential for emotional chaos.
Because of this, we recommend a policy that allows you to be prepared. It’s a vital part of a company handbook and employee onboarding. And given the potential legal implications of relationships, the policies should be reviewed regularly as part of ongoing harassment training.