4 Workplace Romance Policy Points for Employers to Consider this Valentine’s Day - American Society of Employers - Heather Nezich

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4 Workplace Romance Policy Points for Employers to Consider this Valentine’s Day

Love is a prevalent theme on Valentine’s Day, and recent studies suggest that it often extends into the workplace. Despite the increasing trend of remote work, office romances remain common, highlighting the need for clear guidelines to mitigate legal risks and maintain employee morale in case of relationship breakdowns. Crafting realistic policies that align with your company culture and effectively communicating expectations to employees are essential steps. Here are four key considerations to ponder when evaluating whether your office relationship policies require updating to reflect modern workplace dynamics.

1. Acknowledge the Frequency of Workplace Relationships:

Contrary to popular belief, workplace romance is not as rare as one might think. Various surveys indicate a significant portion of the workforce has been involved in office relationships. Whether it's Forbes Advisor's finding that over 60% of respondents have experienced office romance or SHRM's research indicating between 27% to 34% engagement in recent years, the prevalence is undeniable. Surprisingly, the shift to remote work during the pandemic did not deter office romances. Rather, they saw an increase. Considering these statistics, it's prudent to anticipate and address potential issues that may arise from workplace relationships.

2. Prepare for the Fallout When Relationships Sour:

While workplace romances can initially foster harmony, they also pose challenges for both employers and employees. Balancing personal relationships with professional responsibilities can lead to complications, such as decreased productivity, office gossip, and even legal liabilities like harassment claims. Employers must strategize ways to mitigate these risks, such as implementing anti-discrimination policies and providing appropriate training.

3. Evaluate the Pros and Cons of Anti-Fraternization Policies:

Anti-fraternization policies offer a spectrum of options for employers, ranging from complete bans on workplace relationships to more targeted restrictions, such as those between supervisors and subordinates. While strict policies may seem effective in theory, they can also breed resentment among employees and drive relationships underground, potentially exacerbating issues if they turn sour. Alternatively, more nuanced policies that address power dynamics and require disclosure of relationships may offer a middle ground.

4. Consider Implementing "Love Contracts":

To address the challenges posed by workplace relationships, some employers opt for "love contracts," which require employees involved in romantic relationships to disclose them to the company. These contracts typically outline the nature of the relationship and establish guidelines for conduct in the workplace. By proactively addressing potential conflicts and establishing clear expectations, employers can mitigate the risks associated with office romances.

This Valentine’s Day is a fitting time to revisit and refine your organization's approach to office relationships. By developing pragmatic policies that consider the realities of modern workplaces while prioritizing legal compliance and employee well-being, you can foster a work environment conducive to both professionalism and interpersonal connections.

ASE Connect

CCH AnswersNow, accessible by ASE members, has several sample policies available.  View or download them here:

Sample Policy for Couples Who are Dating or Living Together

Sample Dating in the Workplace Policy

Sample Love Contract/Consensual Relationship Letter


Source: JDsupra.com


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