MANAGING WORKPLACE RELATIONSHIPS
According to a recent survey more than 57% of people admit to being involved in a workplace romance, with over 75% saying they are open to the possibility.
However, whilst love is in the air this Valentine’s Day, there are plenty of concerns for businesses as campaigns such as #MeToo and #Timesup are taking center stage. The continuing surge of sexual harassment claims has cast spotlight on harassment and brought scrutiny to already complicated workplace relationships.
Four ways employers can prevent problems:
1. Set clear rules on workplace relationships
Many employers will be fine with workplace relationships, as long as it doesn’t affect their work. However, it is still a good idea to have a clear written policy in place as well as strong equal opportunity policies addressing discrimination and harassment.
2. Monitor existing relationships – Don’t ban it, do speak about it.
It may be worth speaking to your employees early in order to establish boundaries. Whilst you can’t block the relationship, you can set expected conduct in the workplace. Any personal matters should be kept away from the workplace.
3. Put sexual harassment front and centre
With the rise of the #MeToo movement, it is more important than ever for employers to ensure a safe work environment for all employees. Any communication about office romances should always include discussion of the policies around sexual harassment prevention.
4. Keep power dynamics in mind
If one person in the relationship is more senior than the other, the relationship should usually be declared. It is important that all parties maintain their professionalism and are aware of their contractual obligations. For example, discussing confidential information with their partner may be considered grounds for disciplinary action.
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