Developing relationships whether romantic or not is an integral part of human existence. We all long for companionship and seek to develop relationships with others in our spheres of influence. In the work place, it is generally not advised to develop or maintain a romantic relationship with a colleague or superior because it is assumed that such a relationship might have a negative effect on productivity levels and could lead to conflict of interest in the future. Organizations today, have policies regarding this.
It may be difficult or impossible to prevent romantic relationships from developing in the work place. Several research surveys that have been conducted over the years indicate that over 70% of employees aged between 18-29 years state that they would have a romantic relationship with a co-worker while over 35% of 18-29 year olds state that they would date their supervisors. One particular survey indicated that employees believe that developing a relationship in the work place has a fairly high rate of survival than others. It was also discovered that of the 38% of those who were surveyed that had been in a relationship with a co-worker, about 31% married their colleague.
When people come together each day and work in close proximity to one another, the tendency exists for such to happen. It might start out as an innocent friendship but the more both parties spend time together and share intimate details about their life, it would be
natural for romance to become part of the relationship. One cannot also say that it is good or bad as this would depend solely on the policy that exists in the organization. There are cases where individuals working in an organization end up getting married after years of cultivating and maintaining a relationship. Just as with every other thing in life, there are disadvantages and advantages associated with this practice.
It is important that all organizations develop a policy regarding this issue so as to prevent any form of sexual harassment or consequences that may arise from it. Without a policy on it, the organization would be liable if a problem arises. I shall examine some policies in the workplace that have to do with relationships.
1. No dating policySome organizations choose to prohibit any type of romantic relationship in the work place or between co-workers. This places a ban on all forms of relationships between superiors and their subordinates. This would help to clear the organization if co-workers decide to break the rules. The individuals would have to face the consequences themselves. Some organizations extend this policy to include contractors, vendors and suppliers. This policy must be well defined and state the barriers that should be crossed by their employees. The employees are also sign documents agreeing with this policy and would state the penalties that any one that violates it would face. In this case, employees understand the position of Management on the issue from the beginning and can not claim ignorance.
2. Notification policySome organizations have what is called a notification policy. This requires every employee to inform the organization of any relationship between them. This is to ensure that such relationships are consensual and that no employee will claim sexual harassment in the future. The policy requires the party in the relationship to notify the organization both when it begins and when it ends. The organization cannot be held liable with this policy in place.
3. Written ConfirmationSome organizations also demand that both parties submit a written document confirming that their relationship is consensual. It may also include a confirmation of their understanding of the organization's policy on relationships in the work place and what is expected of them. This would prevent any backlash either on the organization or any of the individuals involved.
Some small organizations decide to go without a policy regarding relationships in the work place because they consider the process of monitoring it as difficult. It is important for all organizations to put in place the necessary policies that would prevent any form of sexual harassment.
5. relationships with workersSome organizations allow relationships between their workers but prohibit any form romantic relationship between superiors and subordinates. This policy is to ensure that there are no forms of favoritism or discrimination among their employees. This policy also would be difficult to monitor.
6. No public display of affectionSome organizations can also adopt a policy which prohibits any form of public display of affection among its employees. It states clearly that this type of behaviour is unacceptable in the work place.
The organization should also have some other checks in place that would discourage such relationships from taking place in the work place. These may include:
- Encouraging co-workers to inform Management about any secret romantic relationship between employees. There may be some incentives that are put in place for whistle blowers. This would help to discourage such occurrences.
- The organization should keep a check on their employees through other employees. If there are violations, the organization should be strict about implementing the penalties stipulated. It may include warnings, suspension and subsequent termination of employment. This would is also an effective way of monitoring and checking the issue among its employees.
- It is also important for the organization to seek legal advice on this issue. This would help to ensure that they are following the laws and rules of the land. Legal counsel will be required to implement a policy of this kind in any organization.
- The organization must also ensure that the privacy of her employees are respected and not infringed upon. Such policy is designed to ensure that the work environment is made conducive for all employees and to ensure that there is no form harassment.
In any organization where a policy exists regarding romantic relationships, it would maintain sanity and things would be done in an orderly way. There would be increased levels productivity and cordial working relationships among all employees.