couple flirt in the office
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Jaime Johnson is the founder and Director of leading employee research consultancy, The Survey Initiative.

Here Jaime discusses what should happen if love blossoms in the workplace….

We’re all human and unsurprisingly we like to fall in love. The workplace is where  friendships are forged and where sometimes romance grows. Statistically you are more likely to meet a partner at work than anywhere else – after all, it’s where we spend most of our waking hours, sharing experiences and building close working relations. Some businesses have attempted to ban office romances, but in my view, this is a bad idea. Yes, we don’t want employees losing concentration, or taking extra-long lunch hours with that special someone, but we don’t want to lose top talent, just because St Valentine’s arrow has struck!

Here are my top tips to ensure that an office romance can be managed effectively.

  1. All HR managers and CEOs want their employees to skip into work everyday feeling positive and happy. If romance is blossoming and the endorphins are high, staff will be a lot more productive than if life wasn’t going quite so well for them.
  2. OK, so cupid can’t have it all his own way, it would be prudent to have a policy on workplace romance and be open with employees about how you manage workplace relationships. This will send a clear message to staff that you value them and care about their wellbeing.
  3. Make sure colleagues can be open about whether they’re seeing someone in the organisation. Otherwise it will force those involved to be dishonest, which can raise suspicion, fuel office gossip and create division in the workplace.
  4. Consider stating that, whilst relationships are not actively encouraged, they will be accepted if they do not interfere with the couple’s ability to perform their duties at work, professionally, as outlined in their employment contract.
  5. The real issues arise if a member of staff starts dating the boss or their line manager – this can make matters very complicated! To help manage the situation effectively, processes such as staff appraisals need to be very carefully considered. Ideally another member of staff should appraise the junior employee, or if no one else is capable of doing so, you could ask a member of HR, or another impartial member of staff to sit in on the appraisal.
  6. As long as your appraisal system is understood, well-structured and accurately administered, you should be able to guard against any potential favouritism. Transparency and even-handedness are key to managing the process.
  7. Should the relationship result in misconduct, obvious favouritism, poor performance or have a negative impact on the working environment, then sadly the individuals concerned need to be managed in accordance to your company policies.

For further information about staff surveys or employee engagement, please visit www.surveyinitiative.co.uk.

Jaime JohnsonAbout the author

Jaime founded The Survey Initiative in 2006 following a career in employee research. She heads up the data analysis team and is dedicated to creating employee research solutions that deliver real results.

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