Employers advised how to handle office romance

Employers are being given advice on how to deal with office romance if love is in the workplace air.

As Valentine’s Day approaches, businesses are being given a helping hand to deal with staff who may have become more than just colleagues.

Statistics show only 12 per cent of company managers have been provided with training on managing workplace romances, while 43 per cent of HR staff have encountered a workplace romance.

And it’s almost always the case, as stated in company policies, that romantic relationships between supervisors and their staff are not allowed.

Alison Schreiber is from the HR Dept and works with a number of businesses in the East Durham area.

She said: “Employees falling for each other isn’t rare. Naturally, close relationships will form between people who spend large parts of their lives together.

“In fact, one study from 2011 found that 30 per cent of office romances led to marriage. But that still leaves 70 per cent that don’t end with wedding bells.

“Whilst nobody enjoys telling Cupid where he can and can’t aim his arrow in the workplace, there are times when senior management really should step in. For instance, when a manager and their direct subordinate enter into a relationship. After all, the superior’s impartiality and authority will be compromised, and this can affect a team’s morale.

“You certainly don’t want employees accusing a manager of weakness or favouritism – and this is if the relationship doesn’t turn sour with the problems that it could bring like the manager being accused of an abuse of power.

“It’s also your duty to ensure that, if you find that an employee fancies a co-worker who does not reciprocate, any pestering must be dealt with the moment the issue is raised. The last thing you want is a sexual harassment tribunal case.”

So what should businesses do to ensure they won’t be left red faced if an office romance is uncovered?

Alison added: “Offering supervisors some training on managing workplace romances will be beneficial. Even if you don’t have an official policy and are seeing a romance blossom, you may need to remind the happy couple to remain professional in work. And if you think it’s required and fits the culture of your business, you could draw up a policy on office romances.”

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