How Managers and Business Owners Can Handle Relationships In The Workplace
Let us be very honest; the moment you keep staying with someone over time, you will develop a fondness and even romantic attachment to the person. So many love stories started in the office and many of them were positive. However, if you don’t know how to handle relationships in the workplace, then you are up for a serious issue.
Workplace relationships can become toxic and counterproductive especially if it is between subordinates and superiors. The ugly scenarios it will create, the lack of productivity, lack of seriousness and strife associated with office romance may be too much for business managers.
Like I said earlier, with the right approach and control, office romance can be very productive. My elder sister got married to a man in her ministry and they have been inspirational. But they are just part of a very few numbers of people who get it right.
The issue of office romance is not as critical as that of financial cash flow but it is important nonetheless. It concerns the management of customers and that can be very critical. Therefore, managers and business owners must find ways to handle relationships in the workplace.
We will share some tips on how you can handle relationships in the workplace but before we do that, let us look at this damning statistic about office romance. According to a survey carried out by Vault.com, about 58 percent of employees under survey have engaged in workplace romantic relationship.
This should tell you why it is important to have control over the office romance happening in your workplace if you are a business owner or manager. Well, for the benefit of a doubt, let us itemize some of the risks associated with office romance before going into details on how to set up company policies to combat the effects.
The risks associated with workplace relationships
It could lead to strife, gossip, and rumors
You know that normal relationships carry certain risks and office relationships are not left out. You will find strife and gossip and rumors flying around. I don’t need to tell you that these vices will have negative effects on the productivity level of your company.
Serious conflicts can arise
I hope you know that there are different levels of conflicts. Yes, that is the true situation and office romance can really lead to one of those very serious conflicts. These conflicts can impact your business dealings and cause loss of capital and customers.
Without control, it could lead to distraction
When you don’t handle relationships in the workplace, there will be a very high tendency for distractions to happen to both the participant and passive observers. You don’t want that to happen.
It can lead to sexual harassment
If office romance is encouraged, it could lead to superiors harassing their subordinates when they refuse to succumb to their advances willingly.
It can also lead to unwarranted nepotism and favoritism
If you are dating your co-worker, you are prone to the risk of giving preferential treatment to the person. This is magnified if there is no control on how workplace relationship should be handled.
Having looked at some of the negatives or risks associated with having workplace relationships, we should do something about that. We are here to give certain recommendations. Generally speaking, I believe that to handle relationships in the workplace, you need to put up certain policies to help with that. The policies will have to be implementable.
Establishing A Workplace Relationship Policy As A Way To Handle Relationships In The Workplace
In the process of researching this topic, I came across a piece from businessnewsdaily.com that is quite interesting. I will share the piece exactly as it was written,
The first step toward dealing with potential office romances is establishing a set of policies and procedures. Having a plan in place and a process hammered out for the romantic partners to follow when their office romance begins can help prepare management for any potential issues and cover your business’s bases to the greatest extent possible.
“Workplace relationship policies should place requirements on employees to adhere to the company’s anti-harassment policy and its reporting mandates,” Dikas said. “Policies also can (and in most cases should) prohibit relationships between supervisors and subordinates, which can be breeding grounds for claims of sexual harassment or favoritism, divulgence of confidential company information, gossip and other workplace disruptions.”
Common policies regarding workplace relationships include:
- Mandatory disclosure of the relationship to the HR department
- A ban on relationships between superiors and subordinates
- The signing of “love contract” agreements and acknowledgment of company anti-sexual harassment policies
- A ban on public displays of affection within the workplace
While a strong set of policies is important, it’s critical they are clearly explained to employees rather than just buried in the handbook. According to the Vault.com survey, 41 percent of employees surveyed weren’t aware of their company’s official position on workplace relationships. Just because you write it, doesn’t mean they will read it.
“Having well-developed policies is important, but it is equally important that the policies are communicated to employees and that managers are thoroughly trained on how to handle sexual harassment complaints,” Dikas said
It should be noted that putting office romance policy will not totally eradicate the effects of workplace relationship on the productivity of the company. You just cannot stop the trend but you can just mitigate the effects. Proper training of your employees will also help you handle relationships in the workplace.
You should bear in mind that there are positives that can occur from relationships in the workplace. So many couples first met in the workplace and took it a step higher. Just ensure you have a plan on the ground to mitigate all the likely outcome of office romance and if possible, avoid it as that will tie your hands.
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