Personal Relationships at Work – Have you got a policy in place?

Do you have a HR policy on personal relationships in your business? Whether it is a romantic or family relationship, it’s worth having steps in place that protect you, and the people involved, from potential risks that could harm them personally, and your company.

The commercial risk of favouritism and falsifying documents is a real one. You need to alert your managers to the risks, and make them aware of how employees may perceive (fairly or not) promotions, pay rises and job roles as a result of these relationships.

As with any relationship, there are two sides to this story that you need to consider – how to handle existing relationships within your business, and how best to protect your business should any new ones emerge.

Is it my problem?

If any relationship, romantic or otherwise, between two employees has or is likely to have an impact on working relationships, it is your business. Just thinking about these potential situations could give you a serious headache, even without a mention of a direct conflict of interest…

  • What if a manager starts seeing someone in his or her direct reporting line?
  • What are the potential implications for a father and son working together?
  • What if a new client is related to someone in your business?
  • How do you handle the fall out of failed relationship where the individuals are in the same department?

You can see already the potential for a breach of confidentiality, accusations of favouritism, sexual harassment claims, and much more.

As everyone knows, the workplace is a common place to meet potential partners. Statistics, and they vary; suggest that 40 – 56% of business professionals have had office romances. This could increase further in the future with longer working hours. Of those who started a relationship at work, nearly one third said their office romances lead to marriage. So you need to act now.

What do you need to do?

It’s worth creating a Personal Relationships at Work Policy, that details what is defined as a personal relationship, how it should be disclosed and who to, and the risks. These potential risks are then managed by setting rules of conduct in the workplace; and actions and remedies should a conflict, perceived or actual, occur.

These remedies could include moving individuals to different departments or buildings and changing aspects of management, decision-making and authority if there is a risk of the relationship interfering with the professional conduct and integrity of the business.

You should also consider running anti-sexual harassment training on a regular basis.

Do you have any policies in place with regards to personal relationships at work? Are they working for you? Let me know!

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