Everyone loves a happy couple, but not necessarily in the workplace. As a manager, this is a touchy subject. The couple’s romance, while a positive thing, can be distracting, lead to less productivity and cause resentment among other employees. Worse, a bad breakup may lead to a hostile work environment and possible harassment claims.
Check your company’s policies regarding romantic relationships in the workplace. Some organizations have no policies while others may state that an employee cannot directly report to her romantic partner. Other companies may state that workplace romance is prohibited. If you don’t already have a policy, suggest to your human resources department that you should consider creating one.
Meet with the couple privately if other employees start complaining about their overt public displays of affection, inappropriate sexual talk or flirting. Let the employees know that the romance needs to be kept outside of the workplace and that you expect professional conduct while they’re at work. Stay positive and don’t discourage the romance, but let them know how it affects others and make it clear that business is for work, not love.
Move one of the employees to another department or separate their seating arrangements or physical locations so the lovebirds are not together as often. Separating the couple may increase productivity, allow fewer personal distractions and cut down on public displays of affection, especially if the two keep finding reasons to spend unnecessary work time together.
Transfer the subordinate employee to another manager if she is having a romance with her direct supervisor. If these employees are under your management, recognize this reporting relationship as a potential conflict of interest and nepotism. This touchy situation can lead to employees complaining about the subordinate benefiting from favoritism while involved romantically with her boss. Encourage managers to shun romantic relationships at work and set the example for employees that this is a bad idea.
Francine Richards is a licensed multi-state insurance agent with years of human resources and insurance industry experience. Her work has appeared on Blue Cross Blue Shield websites and newsletters, the Houston Chronicle and The Nest. Richards holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Maryland.