Love is in the air with Valentine’s Day around the corner, making it a good time to review and consider your policies around relationships in the workplace. The 2018 CareerBuilder Valentine’s Day survey showed office romances were at a 10-year low – with 36 percent of workers reporting dating a coworker, in contrast to 41 percent in 2017. While the numbers may be dropping (slightly) office romances can lead to a slippery slope when employers don’t have the policies or management practices in place to address common pitfalls.
There are a range of approaches to the issue, with some employers having no written policy on the issue to others having detailed prohibitions and reporting requirements. If you do not have a policy, it is worth considering whether expressly addressing certain key issues may make sense. For instance, at a minimum, relationship policies typically prohibit romantic relationships between a manager and somebody over whom they have authority or influence. Romantic relationships outside of that narrow category can also be disruptive or problematic, however, and creating certain expectations and ground rules with that in mind is worth considering. Tap into your local employer’s council or the Society of Human Resource Management to find useful off-the-shelf options for such policies. You might also consider approaches that are more tailored to your specific workplace and culture. We welcome being part of any such conversations.