Office Dating: OK or Not OK?
Lots of couples meet at work. It’s inevitable: when you put people in a closed environment, where they see each other every day, sparks will start to fly. But not all office romances survive, which can be problematic for employers.
Sometimes it takes a bad experience for companies to decide they need a dating policy, whether it’s a strick no-dating policy or just some guidelines for employees, should they choose to date each other (which they will inevitably do, even if it’s an official no-no).
Here are a few ideas for dating policies that many employers find effective:
- No interfering with work: Especially when a relationship is new, employees who are dating will almost always allow it to affect their work. They may find new ways to see or talk to their love interest throughout the day, send distracting emails, or sneak away for romance. It’s not fair to other employees to have to pick up the slack. And lovebirds who attend meetings together can make others uncomfortable if they are obvious about their relationship. Emphasize to employees that if they date a co-worker, they may not allow it to affect their work or that of their peers.
- No dating between supervisors and their team members: It’s never a good idea for managers to date their subordinates because it puts the company at risk for legal action. That alone is reason to ban it. In addition, bosses could show favoritism to their loved one, or worse, treat him or her badly in an effort to avoid favoritism.
- No sexual harassment allowed: Allowing dating is not the same as encouraging it. Operating in a free-for-all type of atmosphere could give employees the impression that any sort of sexual behavior is okay in the office. Having a zero-tolerance policy concerning sexual harassment will go a long way to defining expectations.
Employers may not be able to prevent workplace romances, but they can try to control them as much as possible, to save the company loss of productivity and reduce risk of legal action.