Heartbreak hotel: modern workplace romance problems

Gemma O'Connor - Head of Service

February 14 2024

First published: February 14th, 2024
Last updated: February 14th, 2024

Some say that love makes the world go round. But what, exactly, does it do within a workplace?

When employee romances spill over into business, this can bring additional stress for employers or even complaints and grievances from staff.

So how do you manage relationships in the workplace? And what are some real-world examples of workplace romances gone wrong?

What can happen during a workplace romance?

Ranging from conflict after a breakup to sensitive information being shared, the consequences of workplace relationships can manifest in many ways. It’s therefore important for employers to be prepared for a variety of situations.

Some questions that employers can ask themselves are:

Will your Dignity & Respect policy be strong enough to handle any negative fallout should an illicit relationship be leaked? What if an employee is a personal friend of the colleague concerned?

What if a relationship between management and their understudy breaks up?

Will that employee still feel comfortable taking direction from that manager?

Further, will your Confidentiality Policy be strong enough to help you successfully manage such a situation?

Below, our experts share some concrete ways that workplace romances can affect a business.

Grievances, resignations, and confrontations

In one instance, a workplace romance ended with a civil case being taken out and a safety order being put in place. While the employer had taken measures to ensure that this was respected, the situation escalated when the employer was away, resulting in physical force being used and grievances being raised.

In another example, following a workplace relationship breakup, allegations of harassment were made by one party against the other. However, following an investigation, it was revealed the party making the allegations was actually the one harassing their former partner. The situation led to a written warning and, ultimately, a resignation.

In another case, an employee’s performance was under scrutiny for being below par. After meeting with their employer and having a plan put in place, the employee’s partner, also a colleague, confronted the rest of the staff. During this confrontation, they blamed the colleagues for their partner’s stress and disclosed the performance review.

Are workplace romances common?

As it’s estimated that one third of a person’s life is spent at work, it’s perhaps not surprising that recent studies found workplace romances to be quite common.

And considering how frequently workplace relationships can happen and their potential for conflict, there’s a lot for employers to lose when love blossoms at work.

One thing’s for certain, though – learning tips and tricks for dealing with workplace romances can help employers stay prepared and protect their business.

Are you dealing with a workplace romance problem right now?

If you’re currently dealing with a complicated workplace romance issue,

Peninsula’s team of consultants are here to help.

With experience and expertise on HR practices and Irish employment law, we’re confident we can help you address issues in your workplace.

Want to find out more? Give us a ring at 1800 719 216 today.

As a bonus extra, you can listen to the radio interview our COO gave to Limerick Live95 FM where she recounted tales of when workplace romances went wrong

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