It happens more often than you might think. After all, anyone who works outside the home spends a great deal of time with like-minded people, co-workers who may understand and know them well. It’s bound to happen now and then, a connection between two people who already have a lot in common and spend a lot of time together. Here are some cautions to consider when love blooms at work:
- DO look into your company’s policies when it comes to dating in the workplace. This is best done before taking the plunge. Many companies have policies against relationships between co-workers. Repercussions vary when fraternization is discovered. Being transferred to Timbuktu may not be the career move you had in mind.
- DO remember that more companies today have written and verbal policies for office romance than ever before, and they are stricter in how they address them. These policies may be applied differently, depending on an employee’s position within the company. Romantic pairing between workers on the same level may be tolerated more than between employees with a significant difference in rank.
- DO consider how your fellow employees may react to such knowledge. If the general reaction is cold and uncomfortable, you might want to reconsider your actions. Workplace gossip and rumors can be harsh, even hurtful. Accusations of favoritism or unfair advantages may occur, whether true or not. If your relationship proves a distraction to others, you may find yourself under the scrutiny of your employer.
- DO keep it low key and private if you are involved with a co-worker. Having some rules of discretion is wise, especially if you work closely together. This means no afternoon delight in the CEO’s office. Keep it professional.
- DO try to understand your employer’s perspective. Their priority is the company and keeping all their employees effective and productive. Even though workplace romances are commonplace, there are serious implications that can arise when relationships go awry. Lawsuits, quid pro quo sexual harassment or favoritism claims, allegations of assault and battery or false imprisonment and defamation, etc. It’s a complex and sensitive area for employers and they must manage it in a way that is best for the company, not necessarily the employee. Some consequences that employers may resort to are: transferring one employee to a different department; counseling; formal reprimand, suspension or demotion; termination of employment.
- DO give thought to all these issues before getting involved with a co-worker. Love can be complicated enough, but add the challenges (and pitfalls) unique to the workplace romance, and it jumps to another level altogether. D0 take a realistic look at the risks before you pursue the reward.