While the purpose of a workplace is to complete goals and tasks for the betterment of a business, friendships and relationships in this environment are inevitable. A recent study by Gettysburg College shows that the average person spends 90,000 hours of their life at work. This means, on average, over one-seventh of a person’s life is spent interacting with coworkers, supervisors, and subordinates.
When a business cultivates strong friendships in the workplace, it promotes a positive environment for their employees. This, in turn, creates happy employees who are dedicated to their work, loyal, and are proven to increase profitability and higher retention rates for their company. This higher retention rate is due to the risk associated with employees quitting their job and severing friendship with remaining employees.
Romantic relationships are commonly found in the workplace as well and are more complicated for all parties to navigate. Employees may think twice before sparking a romance with a coworker, as this could lead to a myriad of negative outcomes such as sexual harassment and discrimination claims, a dysfunctional work culture, and even workplace violence. When office romances take a turn for the worse, it creates a poor work environment and has the potential to inflict long-term effects on one’s employment. If a relationship is sparked in the workplace, it is important to:
- Follow the employer’s relationship policies outlined in their employee handbook. Some companies require official paperwork to be filed through their Human Resources (HR) department to officially document the relationship, and in many circumstances, relationships between subordinates and supervisors are not allowed.
- Refrain from engaging in relational activities through the use of company devices. This includes company phones, tablets, laptops, computers, videoconferencing software, company email accounts, etc. Every text message, emoji, and email that is sent through a company device may be subject to review, as these devices belong to the company.
- Evaluate whether the relationship is worth the disruption a separation could bring to the work environment.
It is important for businesses to provide their employees with a clear path if they find themselves in a workplace relationship. They must have policies which outline proper procedure and etiquette while on the clock. This includes a thorough remote policy which covers:
- Appropriate e-interactions during work hours
- Appropriate “PDA” in the workplace
- Appropriate use of company products
- Appropriate attire and backgrounds when participating in work-related video conferences
A business must also be conscious of the liabilities that come with romance in the workplace. If an employee complains to their supervisor or HR department about sexual harassment, discrimination, workplace violence, retaliation, or any other issue between employees, it is important that these claims be thoroughly investigated.