Relationships in the workplace can often be a tricky topic to navigate. There is nothing to say that these dynamics can’t happen between employees and, of course, not many would want to stand in the way of somebody else’s private life. That being said, it can pose concerns and issues for the Employer when it begins to impact on the performance of said employees and the impact on the team around them. Whether it be down to unprofessionalism, or a relationship turned sour, there are steps that can be implemented to make sure that these issues cause minimal disruption to the day-to-day harmony of your business.
As mentioned above, even though there is no “bill” that restricts romantic partnerships at work, as an employer you are still able to implement a form of contract if it is felt necessary. Suffolk Police, for example, now asks its police officers to disclose details about their romantic relationships with other colleagues by filling out a form for their Professional Standards Department. This form is to be updated when any significant changes occur, such as moving in together or a break up. Along with being able to monitor these relationships, employers can then make decisions on matters such as shift patterns based on the information given if needed.
Although these interventions may seem heavy handed, it is an option in order to protect the interests of your business. It’s also important to consider the risks when trying to manage a workplace relationship, with issues occurring morally, ethically as well as legally. Sometimes the interference causes more of an issue than had the relationship been left alone from the beginning but, although very hard to predict, can often be avoided through the right line management approach and HR guidance.
It is also worth noting the implications of not only romantic relationships, but also family dynamics at work too. Family dynamics are susceptible to the opinion of favourable, and even unfavourable, treatment by others in the workplace, particularly when a management role is involved. This is just to touch upon another common issue employers face, but one that can be steadily navigated with the right HR support on how to deal with sensitive matters.
We include case scenarios in our Managing People with Confidence Workshops on how to manage these challenging conversations – let us know if you would like details of when Ali Daymond, our HR Director, is running this course next! 0330 113 0925