Contributor: Katie Karpinski
Ahhh- Valentine’s Day. It’s a day that seems to split people into two basic groups. There are those who believe the holiday is entirely made up. To them, Valentine’s Day is simply a genius stunt pulled by candy companies and card sellers to bump their sales after the post-Christmas lull. For others, Valentine’s Day is not a commercial opportunity, but a genuine chance to show their significant other how much they are loved. Whatever side you’re on, I think we can all agree that Valentine’s Day (and romance in general) carries with it a certain element of drama.
This also extends to the business world.
Workplace romances are inevitable. Think about it—most people spend more time at the office than they do at their own homes. This is bound to lead to some pretty interesting (and yes—even dramatic) office encounters. Whether you’re sick of your coworkers making googly-eyes at each other over their cubicle walls, or if you’re an HR manager in desperate need of support, keep reading for some guidance on handling romance in the workplace.
Policy is always your friend when it comes to awkward situations such as these. Having clear policies and procedures regarding sexual harassment, direct report relationships, and general workplace romance situations will not only help you navigate these scenarios, but can also provide legal and systematic support should an issue arise. Developing a clear protocol allows you to distance yourself from the situation and approach it from a strictly professional stance. Which brings us to the next point…
It goes without saying that you must be professional while handling an office romance. While you may have your own personal opinions about the new office fling, keep them to yourself and stick the book. However, this professionalism must also extend to the couple(s) in question. In a workplace environment, it’s expected that people act in a professional way. As part of your policies and procedures, it may be good idea to define what constitutes “professional.” Public displays of affection can be a huge distraction in the workplace. Therefore, if you do have any workplace romances to manage, make sure to act professionally and ask them to do the same.
Finally, it’s important to approach these situations with some perspective. At the end of the day, after all the paperwork has been filed and a proper discussion has taken place, people are still human. Part of being human is connecting with people, and sometimes this takes the form of a serious relationship. Try and understand the complexity of the situation. Further, what people do outside of the workplace shouldn’t concern you. Respect your employees and their emotions while still assuring that your workplace is running smoothly.
Well there you have it! Hopefully by following these three simple steps you can avoid that awkward office drama.