Small employers often don’t worry about strict regulations and too many rules. With a small group, your employees may be more like family, and if everyone is getting along, it’s a good thing. But what if two or more employees are getting along a little too well, and start seeing each other outside of work? No big deal? But what if one of them is in a supervisory role? Now it gets complicated.
While relationships between coworkers don’t present a threat to employers, those that involve a person in power are a different story. A consensual romance that goes sour could lead to charges that it was, indeed, non-consensual. Favoritism is another potential hot issue, like when a manager promotes her boyfriend. No exactly fair to the other staff, is it? As an employer, you must protect the company from charges of sexual harassment. An inappropriate relationship between a supervisor and subordinate could leave the organization vulnerable to a lawsuit.
That’s why every organization with employees needs a basic, written dating policy. What should it include?
- First, make it clear that while dating is not prohibited, romantic relationships between supervisors and employees are not allowed. Train supervisors to avoid workplace romances with subordinates.
- Some firms avoid issues with nepotism and claims of unfair treatment with a policy that no couples or relatives will be hired.
- Other companies require employees who intend to pursue a romantic relationship to report such to management. Why? For a written record that it is indeed consensual. Make sure to ask for notification when the relationship ends, too.
- Clearly state that sexual harassment will not be tolerated in any form. This includes inappropriate language, behavior, or unwanted attention. Remind employees that “no” means “no.”
How to Deal with the Office Rumor Mill
When one employee spills the beans on another’s extracurricular activities, encourage him or her to pay attention to their own worries, not to mention their job. It’s best not to tolerate employees reporting on each other.
If Jack and Jill’s relationship is creating a negative work environment, deal with it before morale and productivity plummet. Obviously, your employees are being paid to perform their job duties and nothing else, so any damaging behavior should not be tolerated.