Romance in the Workplace Essay

Romance in the workplace may be an exciting idea for most people but it is something that, if not totally prohibited, should be regulated by companies or employers.  It seems unavoidable, especially for those who spend more time at work than in their homes.  They feel that the workplace becomes the only venue for them to find romantic relationships.  Being romantically involved with someone’s boss, subordinate, or colleague may cause legal problems for some and may even lead to public embarrassment.

An example would be if one is forced to testify against a lover who is involved in a corporate scandal (Houston 2005).  Another problem would be an employee’s low productivity due to an affair that ended on a sour note.  A romantic involvement between co-workers who are both single is one thing, but affairs wherein one or both parties are married is an entirely different matter.  Aside from the moral implications of illicit affairs, these may also cause damage to the reputation of the company.  An angry spouse could show up unannounced and wreak havoc in the workplace.  A lawsuit arising from such an incident is inevitable, which may then cause negative publicity for the company.

            I am against workplace romance because I believe that it is never appropriate to mix business with pleasure.  It is okay if the parties involved in such a relationship are able to be productive and competitive in their work.  It is even better if they are able to resist public displays of affection during work hours.  Best if they can be professional with each other if and when the relationship comes to an end.  Most employees remain competitive only for as long as their relationships are okay, but when problems begin to surface, so do their under-productivity.

            Workplace romance that ends badly can also affect the company.  They may end up losing a good employee because of the break up.  In some cases where a supervisor and a subordinate are romantically involved, the subordinate could end up losing one’s job because of a relationship that ended badly.  Other employees may feel frustrated if one of their colleagues is involved with their boss, thus their productivity is affected.  Lawsuits may surface if a bitter subordinate feels that his or her job is being threatened by a boss who is also an ex-lover.

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            In my opinion, there is little if no benefit for the company that would effect from allowing their employees to engage in romantic relationships with one another.  A blossoming relationship between colleagues may have a positive effect on their productivity in the short run, but if and when the relationship takes a turn for the worse, it would have an adverse effect on their output.  An online survey conducted by MSNBC.com and Elle magazine showed that 53 percent of workplace relationships end within a year and 84 percent of said relationships end within five years (Clark 2006).  In the long run it is the company that may suffer from failed relationships between their employees.  Other consequences of romantic relationships in the workplace include: being the subject of office gossip, jealousy on the part of other colleagues, especially if an employee is involved with the boss, losing objectivity when tasked to rate the performance of one’s partner (http://www.sirlistalot.com).

Although I am against the idea of romance in the workplace, I am aware that if a certain organization creates a policy that prohibits employees from having intimate relationships with each other, the company may end up losing talented workers.  If this happens, the growth of the business may be adversely affected.  An absolute policy such as this is something that companies cannot impose because it is not beneficial to the employer and its employees.

Since romance in the workplace cannot totally be eliminated, it would be best for the company to set written ground rules to avoid potential inappropriate behavior.  Organizations should include in their conflict of interest policy a clause which states that it is a must for employees to disclose to the management any romantic relationships between them and their co-workers (Clark 2006).  This would make clear for employees their limitations and the rules they need to abide by with regards to their workplace relationships.  Such ground rules can protect the company and their employees as well.

Customizing a policy that will fit the character of the company is a good way of handling relationships in the workplace.  The policies may include: 1.) Prohibition of supervisors from having romantic relationships with their subordinates; 2.) Employees having intimate relationships with each other are prohibited to work in the same department or team within the organization; 3.) Reassignment or termination of employees whose relationships lead to the disruption of  the performance of other employees. (Van Pelt 2009).

A tailored policy covering relationships in the workplace is important because it lessens, if not eliminates, the harmful effects of permitting workplace romance.  It sets the rules that clarify certain questions that employees may have in mind when considering getting involved with a co-worker.  Also, it gives employees the freedom to express themselves without fear of being criticized or talked about behind their back.  It can give them a sense of security that as long as they are not breaking the rules, they can rest assured that they will not end up losing their jobs because of such involvements with co-workers.  Thus, they are able to be productive in their work and the company in turn will benefit from employee productivity.  Such policies may not guarantee that there will no longer be problems arising from romantic relationships between employees, but these may serve as bases for making decisions with regards to the situations arising from said relationships.  These policies may also form part of an organization’s code of conduct, which serves as a guide to employee behavior in the workplace.

References

Clark, S. (2006, April 13). ‘Workplace romance creates trouble for many companies’, Austin        Business Journal, http://www.bizjournals.com/austin/stories/2006/04/03/

            smallb2.html?t=printable

Houston, R. (2005). ‘A workplace romance can be detrimental to your career’,

            http://www.postjobresume.com/careers-employment/18153.php

Sir Listalot (2008). ’10 pros and cons of workplace dating’, http://www.sirlistalot.com/

            10-pros-and-cons-of-workplace-dating/

Van Pelt, J. (2009, May 4). ‘From the manager: workplace romance: do you have a policy?’,

            Cpamerica International, http://www.cpamerica.org/careers/careerandpracticeadvisor/

            article.aspx?r=159

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