Office Romances

Hi everyone, I’m Julia Kernaghan from Project Ops and this week (keeping in the theme of Valentines Day), I’m discussing Office Relationships. Office romances and relationships… we’ve all heard a story or know of friends and colleagues that have been involved in office flings, romances and relationships. When you think about it, we spend a large percentage, at least a third of our week with our colleagues so it’s not surprising that relationships bloom and blossom.

So how do management, managers and individuals positively deal with office relationships and work-couples?   In this blog we remind and give tips to all parties, which will help foster a positive work environment.

Given the complexities around work-couples, it’s smart for management to have clear guidelines and to set expectations which in turn eliminates that elephant in the room and workplace gossip.


What management should think about?

1.    Establish your guidelines.   

Outline appropriate and acceptable behaviour, focus on specific behaviour that disrupts the team environment and isn’t appropriate in the workplace.  Communicate with your employees, advise them and remind them that no matter whether they are in a workplace relationship or not, they should always maintain professionalism, appropriate behaviour and be courteous towards each other.  

2.    Anti-Discrimination / EEO / Sexual Harassment Policy.  

Ensure that your policy is up to date, your managers and employees have been educated and attended training, and that you have regular refresher courses.

3.    Make it easy to report inappropriate behaviour.

Promote a culture where your employees should feel OK to report inappropriate behaviour. Encourage managers to lead by example with appropriate language and behaviour, and that your employees feel that they can approach their manager.

4.    Foster confident managers.  

Ensure that your managers are comfortable and confident to coach work-couples if their behaviour results in low productivity or team morale, and if necessary follow the appropriate disciplinary actions should behaviour render the workplace unproductive and uncomfortable. Ensure that your managers remain fair without favouritism towards work-couples.

5.    Encourage transparency and stop gossip.  

Promote an open, transparent work environment where your employees will be less likely to hide their relationship, which will limit idle workplace gossip.

6.    Trust your employees.

Just as you trust your employees to drive the business forward, meet targets and goals and maintain confidentiality, you need to trust that work-couples use their common sense and act appropriately and professionally at work.


Practical tips for managers:

1.    Accept the relationship.

You can’t stop the relationship, so be levelheaded about it and stay rational.

2.    Set Boundaries.

Talk to your employees but don’t make a big deal about it. Let your work-couples know that it’s best to restrict the social and amorous activities to other venues.  Remind them about maintaining professionalism at all times.

3.    Open lines of communication and keep listening.

Don’t press your employees for details, but make it easy for them to come and talk to you.  Keep your eyes and ears open, so that (all) employees in complicated situations always have a confidential person to speak to.

If a breakup of a work-couple happens, talk to your employees one-on-one about maintaining professionalism and always being courteous to colleagues in the work environment. Ensure they are both getting the same message from you, be consistent.

4.    Understand Anti- Discrimination / EEO / Sexual Harassment.

Ensure that you and your employees are up to date with all the company’s Anti-Discrimination / EEO / Sexual Harassment education and training. Don’t leave the team’s education and training to chance. Be proactive. 


Practical tips for work-couples:

1.    Know the company policy.

Before launching into an office romance, know the company’s policies.  Talk to your manager to understand the guidelines and expectations on all parties.

2.    Maintain professionalism.

Keep social and business lives separate.  If you have regular contact at work, keep that contact professional.  Avoid talking privately or behind closed doors, or regularly eating lunch without other colleagues.  Public displays of affection are a no no! Save the romance for out of the office. 

3.    Social media and work emails.

Consider what you post on social media and remember who can see your posts and read your blogs.  Keep your private life away from your work email; remember your work email is for business-related communication.  No one at work needs to unnecessarily know all about your private lives.

The aim should be to foster a work environment that is an open, honest and transparent workplace between management, managers, employees and employees who are work-couples.


How Project Ops can help?

Project Ops was established 3 years ago, with the aim to assist and educate small business owners on what their requirements are and how to ultimately streamline their staffing operations.

Australia’s employment landscape has become confusing and daunting for business. It's full of complex policies and changing legalities, is hard to understand and even harder to keep up-to-date with. With most business owners being extremely time-poor, finding the time to focus on HR is usually less of a priority. That’s where Project Ops comes in. With Project Ops, we make HR simple!

We can assist with HR Advice and can guide you through any tricky HR situation; we can provide compliant HR Policies and HR documentation (such as Employment Contracts; HR Letters e.g. warning letters, termination letters; Forms; and Checklists); we can recommend, set-up and roll-out online HR management systems; we can set up your Performance Management system and guide you through the process; we can assist with team planning and role definition; we can assist with leadership coaching; and we can also help you with the Recruitment of staff in the first place! If you would like to discuss how Project Ops can assist your business, please get in touch!

Project Ops are one of Australia’s leading outsourcing specialists, providing some of Australia’s best talent to businesses of all sizes for one-off projects, short or long-term contracts. Specialising in Human Resources (HR), Recruitment, Business Operations, Change Management, Project Management and Event Management.