Editor's Blog

Love Connection...The Office Romance

January 9, 2011

We are people first. And being human we’re all looking for connection in every human interaction possible. This also extends to our desire to find romance, love and more.  

Today, the question is where can people connect with one another socially, emotionally and when desired form a love connection?  

There are still bars and nightclubs, but at the end of a brutally long work week, not many of us have a lot of free time and energy to be out late drinking and socializing.  

There’s the Internet which is proving to be a growing way people are meeting.  

There’s still the opportunity [or obligation] to get fixed up on a date by family and friends.  

And more and more often the new dating place is also the workplace.  


Finding Love at the Office

More and more of us are working longer hours and the time and energy to meet people outside of the business world is getting to be less and less.  

Besides, a co-worker can understand the long hours, the devotion to your avocation and it can be an inviting place to bond.   Makes a lot of sense if you look at it but what seems innocent enough can be an issue if there is strict prohibition against dating in the workplace. It can become an issue if there is a supervisor and employee dating and it can get even more complex if there’s an owner and an employee in a relationship.

Well, I’m not a lawyer and I don’t even pretend to play one on TV, but I’ve been around enough of these cases to know that the answer about whether this prohibition against dating will stand up in court is a giant…”it depends.”  

The consensus of opinion is you have a stronger case if you have a written inter-office dating policy that’s in plain-English and is preached in meetings so it’s abundantly clear what the corporate policy is.  

Most shops that are progressive have moved from trying to legislate against it to more of a policy of regulating it. Their goal is to make sure that people dating don’t supervise one another and if a company is large enough accommodations can be made if all parties are willing to move someone to another division or another supervisor. Otherwise, it has the potential to turn into a subjective nightmare as to how much favoritism is being shown to the person supervising their love interest, and even worse, can be how much punishment is being dished out when a relationship is ended.  

It’s tough enough when two employees are dating. It’s much tougher when the owner is dating an employee. My father schooled my brothers and me very early in life about pursuing our dating opportunities outside of the company because his policy strictly prohibited us from dating any staff members, or we’d be asked to leave. I thought it old fashioned but I can see the wisdom of his advice.  

Please understand this isn’t a moral judgment but rather an opportunity to see the potential pitfalls. I do know that careful planning and clear written communication and guideline can help defuse an otherwise powder keg that can blow up in everyone’s face and leave the company mortally wounded. There are many successful relationships that have formed among co-workers and even between an owner and employee that worked out well.  

But for the vast majority, it can be a troublesome thing for sure when two people are in a romantic relationship in the workplace without good guidelines and rules to play by!  

If you want to be proactive, this issue should be addressed by creating a policy with your labor attorney in your Employer-Employee handbook, who will make sure it's compliant with current legislation and court ruling that will give you a higher percentage of it sticking.  

Just know that even with this policy it is sometimes difficult to enforce. What it does seek to do is require all parties disclose the relationship and that they can't work in the same department [almost impossible at small companies where someone would have to go], or that they agree that one can't supervise the other.  

Here's just one link from a quick Google search where there's tons written about this:   http://www.employer-employee.com/dating.html  

Love is a many splendored thing and sometimes super complicated!


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