Handling Workplace Romances
As a business owner, you should be prepared for the eventuality of dealing with a romance between two of your staff members. Naturally, your thoughts may jump to what the repercussions might be if the romance comes to an end. At best, this situation can lead to awkwardness, and at worst, a hostile work environment. However, you may have to deal with the opposite as well, such as employees participating in public displays of affection while they are on your time. Additionally, if the relationship involves a supervisor and a subordinate, it could raise issues of favoritism. All of these things can potentially decrease your overall employee morale, and perhaps even cause valued employees to leave your office to work elsewhere.
Luckily, it is within your rights as a business owner to establish a company policy on romance among your employees. You may choose to put a complete ban on any employee dating another, or limit the ban to relationships between supervisors and those reporting to them directly. However, to be safe, it is recommended that you include a clause that states your company will not interfere with a romantic relationship between coworkers unless it directly impacts the workplace environment.
Within this policy, you may also want to consider instituting a consensual relationship agreement for coworkers who are dating. This form would allow your employees to state that they are entering into the relationship voluntarily. It would also review and confirm that the person signing is familiar with company policies on sexual discrimination and harassment, retaliation, and workplace behavior. By establishing a contract such as this one, you are reminding the couples involved that your office has rules that must be followed, and that consequences can arise if they are not. It also reassures your other employees that anything creating a dysfunctional work environment for them will not be tolerated.