Workplace Romance: How To Approach This As An Employer

Workplace romance is not new, and It’s not surprising that so many people are interested in their colleagues nowadays as work has been taking up more and more of our time lately. But what could really be behind this? Come on, let’s find out.

It’s been discovered that as long as people interact together in a shared work environment, they’re bound to see the basic mechanics of human attraction happening, whether that environment is physical or virtual.

According to Vanessa Bohns, an associate professor of organisational behaviour at Cornell University, US, spending so much time with someone in an environment like the workplace could very likely lay the ground for romance, because of all the factors that contribute to romance, intimacy and familiarity are key.

Also, the more a person sees something (or someone), the more they are disposed to like it, and this favouring of familiarity is a psychological bias called the mere-exposure effect. This infers that just seeing someone repeatedly can lead to attraction

Furthermore, research on workplace romance has shown that being in the same proximity as someone for a long time can help spur a preference for that person. Therefore, the more often people see someone physically close, the more interactions they have with them, and the faster interpersonal attraction builds. 

So how can you approach this as an employer?

As an employer, understanding  this as a natural human behaviour is key in addressing the situation. Though it might seem like a harmless one, it comes with a lot of  problems as well. Some of these include;

  • An increase in the risk of sexual harassment claims and reports of hostile work environments
  • It can create conflicts of interest for you
  • It could make your team uncomfortable and affect their performance

However, even with all  these challenges, it’s been discovered that about 54% of companies do not have workplace romance rules. Can this be translated into meaning it’s not a big issue? Probably, or probably not, your guess is as good as ours. 

But if you don’t want to experience any of the above listed challenges, and you don’t  want to be that employer who frowns at genuine relationships,  the best option is managing it and ensuring that professional lines are not being crossed. 

You’re probably wondering how to go about this right now, do not  worry, we’ll show you how to go about it below.

How to manage employee romance in your organization

You can easily manage the tension, stress and problems that could come with workplace romance among your employees by doing the following:

1. Set clear rules: Rules that prohibit superiors from being in relationships with subordinates without the knowledge of the HR would be great in order to avoid power abuse in the office.

2. Ask that they reveal it early: Employees in a relationship should be mandated to reveal it early in order to reduce suspicion amongst other employees which can lead to work distractions

3. Be approachable: While creating and enabling an environment that doesn’t 100% frown on the development of office romance, you have to be someone others are comfortable confiding in, otherwise, no one would reveal these developments to you, which could be dangerous for your organization. 

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