Tips for setting up an inter office relationship policy
Given that about 20% of married couples met at work, it is not uncommon for employees to begin relationships in the office. However, not all employers are open to dating within the workplace.
If you have a business, this is an issue that may very well present itself sooner or later. The best thing you can do to handle interoffice relationships is to have a policy in place before the need arises.
Decide if you want to allow interoffice dating at all.
The first and most important step is to decide if you will even allow office relationships. The main problem that exists with this type of relationship is the after-effects in the event the couple breaks up. While most couples can act like adults about the manner, there will usually be a broken heart involved, and there may even be some bitterness and other employees taking "sides." Some companies would rather bypass the issue altogether and opt to forbid them at all on the grounds of termination.
Before you consider this type of policy, it's important to realize that a policy is not going to stop two people who are interested in each other from dating. You also must consider the ramifications if the couple is found out - do you really want to risk having to let go two good workers?
That said, most companies allow interoffice dating, but with boundaries in place. The following are some tips for setting up a policy about interoffice relationships and things to take into consideration when you make your policy.
- Decide what you will do about supervisor/subordinate dating. If any type of interoffice dating is to be forbidden, this should be it. If one employee dates a supervisor and the other employees find out about it, issues concerning favoritism are likely to creep up. In addition, the supervisor may find him or herself unknowingly playing favorites or practicing reverse favoritism. In either case, carefully consider whether you will allow a supervisor to date his employees. In the very least, such relationships should be kept private.
- - Make a clear policy about PDAs. Public displays of affection have no place in the office, and this should be enforced. Being around couples who can't keep their hands off each other is distracting, and other employees should not be subjected to it. Set clear boundaries when it comes to this.
- - Decide how you will handle the situation if the relationship turns sour. While most people will be able to act maturely after a breakup, this is not always the case. Decide how you will handle things if a couple can no longer work in the same department.
- - Put the dating policy in writing. You should always put your policies in writing and distribute them among your employees. Make sure all employees know the policy. You may even want to have their manager or supervisor review it with them if they disclose their relationship with HR or their supervisor.
- - Enforce your policy. Once you have your policy in writing, whatever it may be, it is important to enforce all aspects of it to both men and women (lest you be accused of gender bias).
Because many people develop romantic feelings for their coworkers, it is important to have an inter office relationship policy in place in order to keep things running smoothly at work.