For many, the workplace is their best chance of finding someone special. If you have been spending more time working than hanging out with friends, how are you going to meet someone new? But what happens if the employer prohibits romance in the office? Will that discourage you from applying to that company? In the first place, are employers even allowed to prohibit romance in the office? Could that be part of the office policy?
The employer-employee relationship starts from way before an employer first sees a potential hire’s resume. The company policies that the owner crafted will affect present and future employees. Unknowingly to you, a boss somewhere out there is already prohibiting future office romances even before you apply for the job.
But that’s not just it. Some employers are extra careful about office romances that this issue is part of what they want to confirm when they pay for employment verification services. These services involve looking at and verifying your employment history. If they find that you had relationships with your coworkers in the past, that can affect their decision to hire you.
What Office Romances Do to Productivity
So is an office romance that big of a deal for some employers? Yes and no. Yes, because your productivity levels may suffer either for these two reasons: first, you are too enamored with your partner that you both hastily finish work so that you can leave together and go on a date; or second, you fight and your work gets affected.
The last one is a huge problem for employers. When you fight, you make up, and all is well again. But what happens if it’s a nasty breakup? The breakup could be violent, and the employer would be caught in the middle. One of you might even accuse the employer of playing favorites. But how can the employer not take sides? If one of you is more vital to the office operations, then the employer is bound to take that side.
Can Employers Prohibit Office Romances?
Legally speaking, there is no clear law that allows employers to ban office romances. They are, however, allowed to enact policies that will work to the interest of their businesses. If they have solid ground for not wanting office romances, then the law might take their side. Some state and local laws have exceptions on what kind of office romance is allowed. These laws are usually centered on the privacy of the employees and the limitations imposed by the employer on non-work activities in the office.
So should an employer ban office romances? While there are solid concerns as to why some employers frown at office romances, there is also another side to the story. Employers who prohibit office romances can discourage skilled candidates and lower the morale of the employees. Some may even resign from their jobs because they want to date someone in the office.
What Can Employers Do Instead?
There are other things employers can do to manage office romances. They can, for example, prohibit romance where one employee has authority over the other. They can also prohibit romantic relationships if both of them come from the same department. If the couple is to work together on a project, their relationship can get in the way.
You may also ask your employees to disclose their relationships. As long as employers know about the relationships, they can make the necessary adjustment in terms of teaming up the couple together and many other things. The couple can also sign an agreement, saying that they will act professionally at all times, they won’t engage in public displays of affection, and they will leave their personal problems at home.
These policies will help employees feel that their feelings are valid. At the same time, they will also show respect to their employers and their fellow workers. Make sure that your office romance policies are non-discriminatory. In case the relationship gets outs of hand and affects the office work, you should decide on their punishments based on their performance and not on their gender, political affiliation, race, or religion.
Office romances are always a tricky subject for employers. While others don’t want to mind the brewing romances in the office, it’s also a bummer for employers to find out that their best employees are performing poorly because of an office romance gone sour. Instead of ignoring office romances, address the elephant in the room and make policies that will work best for your business.