In honor of Valentine's Day this week, we wanted to share with you Fierce CEO, Halley Bock's most recent article, focusing on love in the workplace, published on Human Resource Management's website.
We’ve all heard it a million times: communication is the key to healthy relationships. Yet when it comes to the workplace, companies aren’t talking. While a 2011 survey by CareerBuilder.com indicates that 40% of workers will date a colleague, less than 15% of organizations provide a written policy around office romance. That’s leaving a lot up to chance.
To ensure a safe, healthy, and lawsuit-free environment for employees and employers alike, there are three key conversations every organization should be having with its workforce.
Conversation #1: Company to Employees
Every organization needs to provide a sexual harassment policy that clearly states how a claim will be handled and the consequences for such behavior. Underscore that the company has a zero-tolerance policy and doesn’t discriminate on the basis of title or tenure.
By the same token, companies need to acknowledge that relationships between colleagues may occur and provide guidelines around what is acceptable and what is not. For example, relationships between supervisors and direct reports are prohibited and professional behavior is required at all times.
Conversation #2: Manager to Employee
When a manager spots a budding romance, it’s wise to open the lines of communication sooner rather than later. Take the opportunity to remind the employee about the company policy and introduce scenarios that may be worthy of consideration. How will he/she handle the situation should the relationship end on less than good terms? How will he/she deal with potential gossip? How will he/she balance work matters and personal issues so as not to damage the office environment? What support would he/she like from the company?
By encouraging thoughtfulness, managers not only prepare their employees for how to handle common issues, they also create high levels of trust by demonstrating support for a successful outcome that is mutually beneficial to all.
Conversation #3: Employee to Employee
The last conversation has to do with how an employee who is involved in a workplace relationship communicates with their fellow employees. Overall, employees should be honest with their colleagues when asked if the rumors are true. If not, tension will mount and needless drama may occur.
In addition, employees should keep the chatter to a minimum, saving the details for outside of work. No matter where they are and whom they are with, employees should ask themselves if they would want the same information shared about them. If there is any doubt, keep a lid on it. After all, their romantic interest works within the same company and would likely prefer some privacy.
Finally, employees should feel empowered to only share what they wish. If something is off-limits, be direct by saying, “I would prefer to keep personal matters private.”
Workplace romance is a fact of life in business. The organizations that provide clear and open communication navigate the waters much more successfully than organizations who either say nothing or ban the practice altogether. Hope is not a strategy nor does it stave off lawsuits. Rather, embracing reality with well-articulated guidelines is a recipe for success.
To read this article on Human Resource Management's website click here.