What is the chance of meeting that special someone at work? Following a Totaljobs Survey of more than 5,000 people, 22% of people report meeting their partners at work. More people find a partner at work than via friends, online dating or on a night out! Plus, it turns out that 2 in 3 UK workers are up for dating a colleague!
It is no surprise that people meet each other at work; let’s face it, work is where most people spend a large proportion of their time and it’s likely that your colleagues will have similar values, interests and areas of common interest.
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How do organisations manage relationships in the workplace?
Having relationships in the workplace, whether that be with your partner or a family member, is something that all organisations need to be aware of.
It is important for organisations to look at how they manage relationships within the workplace rather than try and prohibit them. Organisations need to put actions in place to ensure that professional lines are not crossed. However, it can still end up being complicated, especially if the relationship between two people breaks down. This can often then result in one of the parties resigning, but is there really anything organisations can do to stop it?
Things to be aware of
One thing to be aware of is the line management relationship between two people. If you find out that there is a relationship between a manager and someone who reports to them, the best thing to do is to move one half of the couple into a different area of the business (if possible), in order to avoid any conflict of interest.
It could be worth having a policy to reflect this; this way, staff are aware that if they start a relationship with a fellow employee, the likelihood is that someone may have to change departments. Where this is not possible, to ensure fairness and help prevent any claims of favouritism or unfair treatment, you can ensure that reviews, pay changes, etc. are overseen by another Manager or Director in the business. This way, there is no direct correlation between someone’s performance management and the relationship they have.
You should also be aware of any potential sexual harassment claims that could arise. Not all relationships are positive and if something goes wrong or if someone is subject to unwanted attention, this could pose a significant risk to the organisation in the form of a claim being made, in addition to the general disruption and unrest that could result from such situations.
In a recent survey, 1 in 10 people felt they were discriminated against because of a workplace relationship, and progression opportunities, salary and bonus were all affected worse for women than men. Organisations need to ensure that where there are relationships within teams, professional boundaries are kept, and everyone is treated fairly. It can sometimes be the case that one person in the relationship is treated worse, as they want to ensure that it is clear to all that there isn’t any favouritism, as such, they are harder on that person.
When should a Line Manager or HR be informed of a relationship?
It is best practice to encourage that either a line manager or HR are made aware of any relationships within the workplace as soon as possible.
If, for example, an employee has a family member applying for a role, then the most appropriate thing to do would be for them to tell the recruiting manager or HR at that point. It may have minimal impact, particularly if it is a large organisation and they work in completely different departments, however, it is wise to find out from the beginning. As an organisation, part of your recruitment process could be to have a process in place where any relationships need to be declared at the point of offer.
If two of your team members become romantically involved, you may not hear about it until the two people involved are sure that they want to make it public knowledge.
So, when is the right time for them to tell you? After the first date, or when they decide things are looking more serious?
At first, people may not want to tell anyone that they are dating as it might be that they don’t know for certain that it is something that is going to last, or how they feel about the other person. However, let’s face it, people are likely to work it out! Especially those people they work closest with.
In situations where the couple is made up of a Line Manager and a subordinate, it is important that you make someone like HR aware sooner rather than later. This way they can ensure processes are followed and that they can identify any circumstance that may cause problems within the workplace. Organisations need to ensure that boundaries are maintained.
What if the relationship goes wrong?
Unfortunately, not all relationships last forever and 1 in 7 would quit their job because of a relationship ending! This can cause many problems for organisations, including potentially losing valuable employees.
As an organisation, you can try and support as best as you can, however, your priority is to ensure your business is protected and that those working within it continue to act professionally at all times.
If you need any advice or guidance on this subject or any other topic, please feel free to contact one of our team at MAD-HR who will be happy to help.
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