Dealing With Office Romance

Romance is unavoidable in the workplace, and it’s not just between co-workers. We probably have witnessed some affairs between a supervisor and a subordinate or, worse, an adulterous relationship between a married man with a female co-worker. We cannot blame them, as people who spend much of their lives at work would end up sharing hobbies, personality quirks, and intimacies.


A few companies have formal policies on workplace dating and even fewer ban such romances.  Majority of corporations believe that romance in the workplace is none of their business, without realizing that there are workplace relationships that can create problems. 

If managers do not pay attention about the love that goes around in the office, it may lead to some unexpected surprises. For one, disastrous love affairs may damage morale and productivity, while some workplace romances can lead to sexual harassment cases that can carry a serious legal (and financial) consequences.


But that doesn’t mean that there is no room for love in the office. Many workplace romances actually improve performances, adding dynamism and energy that translates into enhanced morale, communication, creativity, and even productivity.


How do we best regulate love in the workplace? For one, manager should consider drafting written workplace romance guidelines. Such a document encourages employees, especially supervisors and subordinates, to think twice about engaging in an office affair. Guidelines may also offer additional protection to companies defending themselves against sexual harassment cases.


Written guidelines help companies establish a professional and fair work atmosphere and underscore their legitimate preference for a productive environment. The document should be clear, comprehensive, and circulated throughout the company. It should be consistently applied and meshed with other policies. 

It is critical that the guidelines pertain to all employees, regardless of company position, marital status, or sexual preference. It should also be compliant to any present laws in your locality, and that it is broad and flexible enough so as not to intrude on employee’s privacy.


What recommended policies should your company embrace? For one, a complete ban on office romance is not a good idea because employees may find it as an affront to their privacy and out-of-touch with workplace realities. 

It may also be unnecessary, depending on the make-up of your employees and whether they work in different departments or facilities. Besides, an across-the-board dating ban is impossible to enforce anyway, and it may even be proved as a liability should other companies have a democratic approach to office romance.


However, banning romances between supervisors and subordinates in their direct chain of command may be enforced, as these relationships usually spark favoritism charges and evoke concerns about breached confidentiality. They would also call into question a supervisor’s judgment.


It is also sensible to ban employees from flaunting their affections at work. Such excessive displays upset colleagues and are unprofessional. However, banning adulterous relationships may be tricky, as some states and localities have anti-discrimination statues that protect married persons from being singled out.


Once your company has completed a draft, submit it to legal experts—who are familiar with local, state, and federal laws and recent court cases—for approval.

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