The workplace can be a great place to meet a potential partner, which can be very worrisome to employers. In past years, many companies have had strong policies restricting office dating, but the Society for Human Resource Management reports that most companies and businesses do not have any formal or written rules regarding dating in the workplace. Finding romance at work can be easy because individuals live close to each other, see one another on a daily basis, may be similar in age, and have commons interests both inside and outside of work.
By dating in the workplace, individuals get an opportunity to know one another and can establish a relationship prior to dating. This can be very effective in establishing a caring and loving relationship. The positive effects can sometimes carry over into the workplace as well. It can be beneficial for the dating couple to have someone there who can stay late with them or talk about their feelings and stresses involved in work.
The two most damaging romances are when one person directly reports to the other, which can confuse the participants and blur the line between the personal and professional relationship. The other potential dating disaster is when one participant begins dating another to get ahead or satisfy a career-related need. This can lead to uncomfortable feelings between a couple, and a company may be held liable if a boss took advantage of another worker.
It can be important to limit the number of people that a dating couple shares their confidential and private information with. Office dating can result in intense office gossip, and managers and supervisors need to be aware of career-damaging information and behavior. Not only can dating gossip be embarrassing and harmful to a couple's career, but supervisors may take disciplinary action if they deem that the relationship is disrupting the workplace.
Before embarking on an office romance, know your organizations written and unwritten policies involving dating relationships. It may be beneficial for both participants to behave discreetly in the workplace and keep any public displays of affection off-limits. If the dating couple is required to work together for any period of time or attend the same meetings, it is essential to act professional at all times. Partners should talk to one another about the impact of the relationship at work, and constantly communicate about thoughts, feelings or ideas.
Companies and participants must be wary of potential claims of sexual harassment at work. Sexual harassment is a serious legal matter and cannot only cause a company to lose money, but can cost individuals jobs and ruin reputations. When the relationship ends, there can be workplace disharmony and retaliation by one or both parties. Companies are concerned about lowered morale and productivity from the couple and their co-workers.
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- Journal of Management, May-June, 1998 issue, Gary N. Powell
- Society for Human Resource Mangement
- U.S. News on the effect of dating in the workplace