Human Resources Advice for Romance in the Workplace

  • HR Policies
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Peninsula Team, Peninsula Team

(Last updated )

recent news story is the CEO of McDonald’s, Stephen Easterbrook, being fired for being in a romantic relationship with an employee. The relationship was consensual but violated company policy. Although, the story made headlines for the details surrounding Easterbrook’s exit of the company and not just the relationship, it begs the question; should employers be concerned about workplace relationships?

After all, employees spend most of their days together and good working relationships can lead to romantic ones. However, workplace romance can affect the performance of the workers involved and the business.

Should a workplace relationship go south, the following are all potential concerns:

  • Sexual harassment claims
  • Claims that a relationship was non-consensual
  • Workplace tensions

So, how can employers maintain a productive, respectful and harassment-free workplace, without crossing the fine line of interfering with the personal relationships of their staff?

This article highlights effective tips that employers can implement to manage romances in the workplace, without invading their employees’ personal lives.

Establish Clear Policies on Romances in the Workplace

Forbidding relationships among employees is generally ineffective and bad for company morale; however, a relationship should not threaten an individual, a group or organizational effectiveness. Establishing a clear company policy on dating relationships helps prevent these situations. The following are examples of the rules to include in a workplace relationship policy:

  • Preventing supervisors from dating an employee directly reporting to them;
  • Stressing the importance of and defining professional behavior while dating in the workplace;
  • Stating the company will not tolerate sexual behavior in the workplace.

A clear policy communicates to employees exactly where the company stands regarding romantic relationships in the workplace.

Hold a Staff Workshop

Workshops can complement company policies, as they provide an opportunity to communicate the policy to the workforce and ensure everyone is on the same page. They also give employees the opportunity to weigh in on the discussion. Employees can share potential concerns they have on workplace relationships or the company’s policy on the matter.

Setting Expectations for Appropriate Conduct

A key part of maintaining a healthy workplace, is ensuring your employees have a clear understanding of what is acceptable behaviour. Here are some best practices, with which employers can support their workers in relationships. Employers can advice the following:

  1. Saving displays of affection for outside the workplace
  2. Discussing with their partner on how to minimize the affect of their relationship on work performance.
  3. Keeping the relationship private until they are comfortable making it public

Still have questions on romantic relationships in the workplace?

If you are an employer looking to create a clear policy on dating relationships in the workplace our HR and health & safety advisors will help you create policies, employee management, contracts and documentation and so much more. Call us today: 1 (833) 247-3652

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