Workplace romances are nothing new, and even post-Covid, many people spend more waking hours in the workplace than they do at home. With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, the NFIB Small Business Legal Center warns that while workplace romance can have a positive impact on employees’ performance, office affairs can also be distracting and destructive to both the couple involved and others in the workplace.
Consider the following tips to minimize distraction and maximize appropriate workplace comradery:
- Understand your obligation to prevent harassment, including sexual harassment, in the workplace. Establish a policy and enforce it. NFIB provides a free model policy here.
- Be on high alert for supervisor-subordinate relationships. These can be among the most dangerous, legally, for employers. The relationship can lead to resentment among co-workers who feel that the employee dating the manager is being favored. Furthermore, after the break-up, watch out! Be prepared to defend against discrimination claims from the jilted subordinate employee.
- Have an open-door policy. While it’s unrealistic to prohibit workplace dating, establish an open policy that makes it easy for employees to talk about these issues with you. So, if things go south, you’ll be the first to hear about it.
- Public display of affection (aka PDA) is unacceptable in the office. Don’t be afraid to speak up and stop it. No kissing, hugging, or hand holding in the office. Don’t be afraid to speak up and stop public displays of physical intimacy between employees.
- Finally – be consistent. The same rules need to apply to everyone in the workplace.
For further questions on office romance, harassment, and other related policies in the workplace, you can email [email protected]