How should you deal with a workplace romance?

office romance
Only 12% of company managers have been provided with training on managing workplace romances; 43% of HR staff have encountered a workplace romance; and 99% of policies on workplace romances state that romantic relationships between supervisors and their staff are not allowed.

Employees falling for each other isn’t rare. Naturally, close relationships will form between people who spend large parts of their lives together. One study from 2011 found that 30% of office romances led to marriage. But that still leaves 70% that don’t end with wedding bells. Alison Schreiber, Director at The HR Dept, Durham & Darlington, looks at the issue and how it can be managed.

Whilst nobody enjoys telling Cupid where he can and can’t aim his arrow in the workplace, there are times when senior management really should step in. For instance, when a manager and their direct subordinate enter into a relationship. After all, the superior’s impartiality and authority will be compromised, and this can affect a team’s morale. You certainly don’t want employees accusing a manager of weakness or favouritism – and this is if the relationship doesn’t turn sour with the problems that it could bring like the manager being accused of an abuse of power.

It’s also your duty to ensure that, if you find that an employee fancies a co-worker who does not reciprocate, any pestering must be dealt with the moment the issue is raised. The last thing you want is a sexual harassment tribunal case.

Some people enjoy a gossip, and the relationships between co-workers can be prime subject matter. It’s important to ensure this doesn’t go too far and reduce productivity. Malicious gossip is very corrosive to team morale. It can also start cliques and bring other problematic issues. Therefore, it’s worth making sure this doesn’t get out of control.

Offering supervisors some training on managing workplace romances will be beneficial. Even if you don’t have an official policy and are seeing a romance blossom, you may need to remind the happy couple to remain professional in work.

And if you think it’s required and fits the culture of your business, you could draw up a policy on office romances.