People spend a lot of their time at work. This leads to it being a perfect place to find partners to date. Besides, you spend the most time with your co-workers, and already have one thing in common.
What Does This Look Like?
I have one friend who works at the company Dutch Bros. They have a strict dating policy. Once you and your partner who both work at the coffee stand start dating, they split you up. They send one of you to work at their coffee stand on the other side of town. As a couple, you also have to sign a contract stating it will not prevent you from continuing to do exceptional work. These guidelines have been set in place to prevent work drama for all employees at Dutch Bros. It is one example of setting ethics regarding managing office romances.
There are also many ethics involved when a manager is dating an employee. Gail O’Brien says that ‘This is no dating game—the relationship, whether or not they stay together, could wreak havoc on your culture and company.” The relationship will not be private, and your other employees will quickly become aware of the couple. It is disruptive to other employees and may lead them to questioning favoritism, credibility, questions of fairness, and even the boss’s accountability.
The Fear of Sexual Harrasment
Sexual harassment is a current hot button today. It is an issue that all executives should be aware of when managing ethics regarding office romances. It is the manager’s legal obligation to not let this unspeakable act sneak into the workplace. Also, other employees may fear that when there is an employer to employee romantic relationship that it may lead to sexual harassment. Of course in the history of offices events that have to do with employers taking advantages with coercion or threats to employees have happened, so the employee has to be visibly consenting in the relationship. In this case, an easy solution is to develop a clear sexual harassment policy in the employee handbook. The handbook will lay out these rules clearly for employees to abide by.
The Key Steps to Managing Romantic Ethics
- Remaining neutral and unbiased in an office relationship is key. Once you start showing favoritism towards a partner in the workplace, your coworkers will be upset and it will lead to a number of future issues.
- Remind employees to think before they act on feelings. As an employee, this is not an arrangement you want to fall into on a whim. When you find you like someone in the workplace, first take a minute and resist. Read the employee handbook and see if this relationship is forbidden, if it is not, pursue the person with caution.
- Consider love contracts. Just as the coffee company Dutch Bros. does, you may want to make the couple sign a contract in case the relationship gets messy and is not a clean break.
- Train your workforce to be ethical in relationships at work and about sexual harassment. If you are upfront about the rules, there is no room for the employees to slap back at you when they act with foolish conduct. After training, they should know everything they need to do, and how to act as employees. There will be no surprises when they get reprimanded for not following the rules in the future.
In conclusion, as executives, we are fearful of what romantic relationships in the office may lead to. With this information and key steps, we are able to maintain ethics for our employees as managers, and keep the business in order. It does not mean we have to act like Scrooge, but we can let our employees pursue