Style My Soul Explores …
“What is one piece of guidance you can offer professionals who engage in a workplace romance? Is it good or bad, and why?”
Boy, we got a lot of feedback on this topic! :)
For engaging in a workplace romance, I would strongly caution against it. Not only can this create a potentially uncomfortable work environment for those involved, but also for their colleagues who sense tension or feel excluded. Not to mention potential bias from supervisors or colleagues in decision-making matters, such as promotions and evaluations.
While many workplace romances are successful, the risks far outweigh any potential rewards. Therefore, my best advice is to avoid getting involved with someone at work altogether. - Lorien Strydom, Executive Country Manager, Financer.com
Know Your Company Policy on Fraternization
Some workplaces forbid any type of inter-office relationships, as they can create uncomfortable or awkward situations for both parties and other employees. On the flip side, however, there have been plenty of successful workplace romances that exist today (e.g., Bill and Melinda Gates). So, what one should consider is setting boundaries so that all co-workers involved feel comfortable without compromising their job security or performance at work. Strike up a conversation about expectations before getting involved so both parties know what is and isn’t acceptable within the office environment; this could range from keeping interactions professional during business hours to creating clear communication guidelines on discussing personal matters while at work that won’t disrupt their job duties and responsibilities. - Travis Lindemoen, Managing Director, nexus IT group
Be Open and Professional
When engaging in a workplace romance, bosses should generally be upfront and professional. By being clear about the relationship and keeping a professional approach, employers can help limit any potential conflicts of interest or bias. This, I feel, can help to establish a healthy work atmosphere and retain an employee’s sense of fairness and equity.
But, if an employer fails to be transparent or professional, it may be perceived negatively. This could give the impression of impropriety or unethical behavior, harming the employer’s reputation and credibility. Failure to maintain a professional demeanor may also result in a hostile work environment and charges of sexual harassment or other forms of workplace misbehavior.
- Daniel Foley, Founder, Daniel Foley Consultancy
Create Clear Rules and Guidelines
Having clear standards and guidelines concerning workplace romances is typically regarded as desirable for employers. From my perspective, employers can help to reduce the hazards connected with workplace romances, such as conflicts of interest, favoritism, and sexual harassment, by defining clear expectations and boundaries. Yet, if an employer cannot develop clear standards and guidelines, or if they are overly restrictive or unjust, it may be viewed negatively. For example, if an employer prohibits all workplace romances, it may be perceived as unduly restrictive, harming morale and employee engagement. Furthermore, if policies and guidelines are not enforced consistently and fairly, employees may perceive bias or discrimination.
- Nely Mihaylova, Marketing Manager, UNAGI Scooters
Be Open and Honest
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to workplace romance. Some employers may regard it as a positive development, while others may regard it as a potential liability. Companies should be open about workplace romances and develop clear standards and practices for dealing with them. In my opinion, establishing a clear reporting process for when a workplace romance develops, as well as providing assistance for colleagues who may be impacted by the relationship, is part of this.
- Holly Cooper, Marketing Manager, Lucas Products & Services
Ask, “Are You Willing to Give Up Your Job?”
Often, workplace romance is depicted by literature and media to have a happy ending, and sometimes it does! Too often, however, it’s a big mess, especially if there is a power dynamic (i.e. boss + direct report relationship). If things end badly, it can cause demotion, a blow to your reputation, or even termination. If people find out, you could violate company policy, which can also result in your termination. My rule is to not do workplace romances because of the risk they can have on your career. If you stumble into one and are serious about it, I suggest that one party looks for another role outside of the company (or inside of the company if it’s big enough). - Cheyenne Horvat, Manager, People Ops, ThePplPress
It Will Be An Assumed Conflict of Interest.
I would encourage anyone who engages in a workplace romance to consider the power dynamics this may create and alter within a company. There will be an assumed conflict of interest at play whenever a team is trying to decide together, and one person sides with the team member who is also in a romantic interest. To use a real-world example — a CEO and his secretary went on vacation together at the same time as a group of employees. The group of employees returned to work on time. Meanwhile, the CEO and secretary did not return when expected. The group of employees immediately questioned why the secretary got an extended vacation just because she was dating the boss. - Lindsay Duston, CPRW, Chief Human Resources Officer, Find My Profession
Voluntarily Disclose the Relationship
The ideal scenario when two professionals date is for the couple to voluntarily disclose their relationship to HR, after which HR may move one or both of them to another job within the organization if there is a subordinate/manager issue or another potential conflict.
Relationships in the workplace are a difficult subject for HR, which must shield the business from lawsuits while enabling workers to pursue their own romantic interests. Establish a documented policy and ensure that they inform your staff of it. It should be mentioned in the employee handbook, sexual harassment training, orientation, or — ideally — all three. Keep records of everything, including official acknowledgments of relationships and references to them in workplace communications. Your attorney will appreciate you if a relationship falters and someone complains of harassment. Think about creating a formal “love contract” that outlines the partnership and expectations for conduct at work. - Himanshu Sharma, CEO and Founder, Academy of Digital Marketing
If You’re Not Serious About the Relationship, Do Not Date Someone You Work With
If you’re not serious about the relationship and are simply engaging in a workplace romance for fun, it is best to keep your feelings under wraps. This is especially true if you’re in a position of power or one of your colleagues is more junior than you. Not only could this potentially become an ethical and HR issue, but it can ruin the dynamic of the workplace and make things awkward for everyone involved. If you enter a relationship, be professional and respectful of the workplace boundaries that are in place. Keep your personal life out of the office — don’t show too much affection in public or talk about your private life with colleagues. This shows respect to your coworkers and the office environment — there’s a company policy for a reason, so abide by it. If the relationship gets serious, discuss it with your manager and HR department to ensure all regulations are followed properly.
- Darren Shafae, Founder, ResumeBlaze
Communication is the Key to Everything Here
Oh, the thrilling world of workplace romance! It can be both exhilarating and daunting at the same time. So, for professionals who find themselves swept away by love in the office environment, I have one invaluable piece of guidance for you: communication is key! Yes, that’s right! Dive into open and honest conversations with your romantic partner, clarifying boundaries, expectations, and potential challenges. This approach will help you navigate the delicate balance between work and love life. Is workplace romance good or bad? Well, it depends! With clear communication and mutual understanding, it can be a rewarding and positive experience. But remember, tread carefully to maintain professionalism and avoid potential pitfalls that may arise.
- Michael Lazar, Executive, ReadyCloud
Establish Clear Boundaries
One piece of guidance for professionals who engage in workplace romance is to establish clear boundaries between their personal and professional lives. While workplace romances are not inherently good or bad, they can create complications and conflicts of interest if not managed properly. It is important to maintain open communication with your partner and set boundaries to ensure that your personal relationship does not negatively impact your work performance or the workplace environment. This might involve avoiding public displays of affection, keeping personal conversations out of the office, and not allowing romantic issues to influence professional decisions. - Basana Saha, Founder and Editor, KidsCareIdeas
Employee Privacy Should Be Respected
For workplace romance, employers should protect their employees’ privacy. This includes refraining from digging into the facts of the relationship and not treating employees differently based on their relationship status.
Office romance can be beneficial or detrimental to employers, depending on how it is managed. In my opinion, businesses should examine potential risks and liabilities, develop clear policies and procedures, encourage open communication, respect employees’ privacy, and give all employees training and education. - Adam Crossling, Head of Marketing, Zenzero
Promote Open Dialogue
Companies should promote open communication among employees who are involved in workplace relationships. In my perspective, establishing clear parameters for how the couple should communicate in the workplace, as well as offering support and resources for any issues that may arise, are all part of this. - Tim Parker, Director, Syntax Integration
Be Aware of the Potential Consequences
One guidance I can offer professionals who engage in workplace romance is to be aware of the potential consequences and communicate openly with each other and their employer. It is important to discuss how the relationship may impact their work and the workplace and to devise a plan for navigating any potential issues. Whether workplace romance is good or bad depends on the individuals involved, the workplace culture, and the company’s policies. It can be positive if it leads to a fulfilling and supportive relationship, but it can also damage if it creates tension or conflicts of interest in the workplace. To minimize potential negative outcomes, professionals should be discreet, maintain professionalism, and abide by any relevant workplace policies. Overall, the key is to approach workplace romance with caution and to prioritize communication, transparency, and professionalism.
- Paul Somerville, Editor-in-Chief, Electric Scooter Guide
Keep Your Distance from Your Supervisor and Subordinates
It’s important to avoid dating your supervisors or employees, regardless of your motivations. Being connected with someone higher or lower up in your line of command is never a good idea. Giving someone you’re dating a performance review, for instance, makes it challenging to be unbiased. Also, you don’t want anyone to believe that you are unfairly being favored, as that will lower your own self-esteem and the spirit of the team. Both experts agree that relationships between a boss and an employee can occasionally succeed. - Alex Constantinou, Managing Director, The Fitness Circle
Be Ready to Face the Consequences
Workplace romances can have both positive and negative outcomes. While it may cause a happy and successful partnership, it may also result in workplace gossip, disagreements, or even firings. In my opinion, prepare for the potential implications and have a backup plan in place in case things don’t work out. - Jeff Romero, Founder, Octiv Digital
Bad Idea, but Still Worth the Thrill
One thing I learned during my undergraduate years at UCLA is that just because something is a bad idea doesn’t always mean we never do it. We have all heard about the pitfalls of office romance. We have even seen them end badly and in tears, and yet we just can’t help ourselves. I have been involved in office romance twice, unsuccessfully, of course, but still, the thrill of it is something to behold. My advice for folks who are thinking of trying it is this: just have fun while it lasts. I am yet to see any office relationships that didn’t end up in tears. But I also know that we cannot control who we are attracted to. And besides, if you are spending nearly half of your day working side by side with this person, feelings of attraction are simply inevitable. So, just go for it, but don’t have high expectations. - Young Pham, Founder and Project Manager, Biz Report
It’s Great When It All Goes Well, but Bad When There is a Fall Out
It affects the working relationship of the two people involved, affects the team, affects the dynamics of the team, and also damages the work culture somewhere. I suppose that is why many organizations have a policy around workplace relationships. At times, workplace romance takes a nasty turn when it borders on romance and sexual harassment. It is not unheard of when one person oversteps the line during a romantic relationship, but this overstepping can cause the end of the relationship. Now, in the context of work, such an ended relationship will affect the work and working relations between the two people, and therefore, create a hostile working environment for one of them. Eventually, one of the two will exit the company. It’s a no-win for everyone.
- Deepam Yogi, Co-founder and Partner, Yellow Spark