Why is it so easy to fall in love at work? For starters, while working alongside someone every day, you get to know the person well. You see how they solve problems, handle pressure and share praise, all of which give you insight into their personalities. Often, love grows without either of you really being aware of it. Relationships built from this level of reality are often lasting ones because you get to know one another before professing romantic interest.
On the flip side, if the relationship doesn’t work out, you can’t just walk away. No matter how badly things end, you have to maintain a professional relationship with your ex. Failing to do so could cost you a promotion or even your job, in some cases.
Many organisations have implemented a strict dating policy for workers because of the impact it can have on long-term productivity. Apart from a drop in workplace morale, employees are vulnerable to sexual harassment suits. But banning office romances isn’t a realistic solution. After all, as Forbes expert Lucy Kellaway puts it, “Love at work is absolutely unavoidable… so long as you hole people up together for long hours they will fall for each other.”
Which is why it’s important for employees to follow clear-cut rules on workplace love instead of forbidding it.
1. Do not date up or down the office hierarchy
Involvement with a boss or a subordinate should be a strict no-no. It can lead to situations where there can be appearances of favoritism when it comes to work assignments and promotions. That can have a negative effect on the entire office as other employees may feel that a person can’t be objective or fair when it comes to making decisions if they have a personal relationship with one among them.
Also, in the event that a relationship comes to an end, there can be the additional complication of a sexual harassment case from a subordinate. If you are a boss-subordinate in a relationship, considering transferring out of the same department so you’re not both put in a potentially risky situation.
2. Stay on the same page and practice discretion
Communicate clearly about how you want to act at work. Would you prefer being open about your relationship or maintaining a professional distance? Avoid any romantic conversations and public displays of affection such as touching or hugging on the office premises as it may breed resentment among your colleagues. If your company has a policy of disclosure, be sure to adhere to it.
3. Give each other space
Don’t crowd or constantly keep tabs on one other. Pursue your interests individually and together outside of work. Keep your personal and professional lives separate. Don’t let a personal quarrel spill over to the workplace.
4. Be aware of the consequences
At times, a sexual harassment case can be the outcome of an office romance gone sour. So be aware that this is a potential liability that can result from this type of liaison and proceed with caution. Sexual harassment suits are both disruptive and harmful for your career.
Romance is wonderful, but as the saying goes, don’t be a fool in love. Jeopardising your career in pursuit of an office romance is both a short sighted and reckless move. So remain mindful of company policy and proceed with caution.