With most rational people avoiding any restaurants on Sunday 14th February and ducking as the explosions of red foil and teddies wallop their senses as they walk down the high street, February is unavoidably the official month of Love. And with many of us spending more and more time at the office, it’s no surprise that many working relationships blossom into something a little more intimate. A fact backed up by research carried out by CareerBuilder.com found that 38% of workers have dated a colleague at some point in their working lives.
And those individuals are in pretty good company too as one power couple that met in the workplace is none other than Barack and Michelle Obama. Back in 1989, the pair met whilst they were spending time working at the same law firm in Chicago.
As an employer though, you’d be right to be a little cautious about what the implications could be for your business. If you suspect that there’s an office romance in the pipeline or are concerned about the impact that this could have on your team, or what might happen if things turn sour, then consider the following tips.
Accept That Sometimes Things Just ‘Happen’
Don’t be the romance police and try and implement any kind of policy that bans romantic relationships between employees. It would be unreasonable to do so and it probably wouldn’t act as a deterrent. Possibly, if anything, you’d be doing the opposite by creating a culture of secrecy and mistrust.
The bottom line here is that these things happen, and as a leader, you have to accept it.
Nip Any Problems In The Bud ASAP
Public displays of affection aren’t appropriate in the workplace. No one wants to see canoodling by the canteen, or have to navigate their way through locked lips just to get to the kettle. And luckily, most couples will know this already, and will often do everything they can to make sure that there are no awkward moments for their colleagues.
But if you do feel that boundaries are being crossed though, take action as soon as possible. Have a discreet word with both individuals: explain your worries, and remind them of what’s acceptable and what isn’t.
Consider The Team As A Whole
You’re probably not in the office all day long, every day of the week. So in many ways, you only get a very limited snapshot of what’s going on, and how everyone’s interacting on a day-to-day basis. This means that you need to be extra vigilant when it comes to monitoring sentiment.
Of course, this is a larger issue surrounding workplace culture, and it covers more than just office romances. Keeping your finger on the pulse and collecting meaningful, insightful feedback from your staff on a regular basis will ensure that you’re creating a productive, motivated, and happy workforce – if, of course, you’re taking action on your findings.
Don’t Take Sides If Things Go Wrong
Most people worry about the potential fallout of office relationships turning sour. And it’s essential that you’re prepared for the worst-case scenario. Stay impartial, try to exercise a degree of understanding and sympathy, but make sure that you keep overall business objectives and priorities in sight.
Of course, it’s vital that you can recognise the difference between a break-up and something more sinister. Whilst a policy on an outright ban on relationships isn't advised, your policies and procedures on serious matters such as sexual harassment and bullying should be robust, communicated and always implemented.
If you’ve got these key areas covered, romance at work doesn’t have to leave you feeling stressed out and uncertain about what to do for the best.
But if you feel like you need to ensure that you’re prepared for anything that your business might throw at you this year - Valentines Day or not - we can help to make sure that you’re ready.
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Photo Credit: Love by TedFu