If you’ve found love at the workplace, here are some suggestions to keep love alive while remaining professional. It’s always best to keep these relationships out in the open; this can help to avoid any potential conflicts. I will state, it is perfectly normal and OK to date a co-worker; there are just some considerations to keep in mind when doing so.
Avoid harassment: If an employee has a crush on a co-worker and they are not reciprocating that feeling, it’s best to take their verbal and non-verbal cues and focus on the professional relationship only. This scenario can make others uncomfortable when a co-worker continues to press the issue, and it can end in a harassment claim when it does not stop. Some examples can include repeatedly asking a co-worker out, frequent unwelcome compliments, unwelcome physical touch or any other behavior that has been asked by one party to stop. This can also apply if a relationship does not work out and one of the parties is not ready to let go.
Nepotism policy: Familiarize yourself with your workplace nepotism and fraternization policies; most of these policies can give very specific guidance on how to proceed with relationships in the workplace (hint: these are often located in the employee handbook).
Disclose the relationship: This allows HR or the manager to implement workplace policies and facilitate any changes that need to take place as a result. In some cases, disclosure is not easy as one or both parties are currently in another relationship. This situation is the trickiest to navigate in the workplace. Most of the time these are not disclosed, but they should be. HR is skilled in not only handling these scenarios but to the extent possible, confidentiality is maintained.
Supervisors dating subordinates: As a manager in the majority of workplaces, you are not able to supervise someone you are romantically involved with. This is something that can often be solved by moving this employee or supervisor to another team or area within the organization. If there is no option to move, either the supervisor or their employee may need to seek another job to avoid this conflict of interest. This may also apply to someone who is in a lead role as well.
Love contract: This can be an informal or formal agreement that the employee enters into with their workplace. This would indicate that both employees are entering into a consensual relationship and some rules of engagement would be outlined.
In this season of love, it is OK to explore romantic relationships in a majority of workplaces. We highly encourage open and honest communication to avoid an uncomfortable conversation with HR, or in the worst-case scenario, a harassment claim that can result in the loss of employment. HR is here to help navigate these situations; if the policy or guidance is unclear, just ask. Valentine’s Day wouldn’t be complete without Cupid, but your workplace would be complete without you. It’s possible to keep both when these simple guidelines are followed.9