Workplace romance is a relationship between two members of the same organization that involves physical allure and human emotions that exceed a platonic relationship. Those who get into workplace romances are usually people who are attracted to each other and both agree to take part in the relationship. Workplace romances encompass the yearning to be with the other workmate and feelings of bodily and emotional allure. This may result in respect between partners, sharing of private information and sexual behaviors (Ariani, 2011).
Romance in the workplace is a common occurrence in many organizations. This may be as a result of the increase in the number of hours spent at work which makes workmates bond more as a result of sexual attraction. Workplace romance is also believed to have increased in the last decades due to an increase in the number of women in the work force. Thus the fusion of all sexes and the long duration spent at work has led to the awareness of human emotions which have in turn given rise to romance between people at the same workplace. Working together offers adequate time for people to get to know each other well, making them comfortable enough to get involved in workplace romances. Workplace romances may seem harmless at first but they can result in severe complications. Thus, employers should regulate workplace romances (Ariani, 2011).
Many organizations lack workplace romance guidelines. Human resource departments of all organizations should come up with sound policies for workplace romances. This will go a long way in managing workplace romances. The policies should be written down to help companies avoid difficulties that may arise from the workplace romances. An important factor to consider though is that workplace romances will develop regardless of the regulations set by the human resource department. Prohibiting workplace romances will not eradicate them completely, it will only force those who are involved to keep their relationship secret. Hence, it is advisable for employers to encourage their workers to be open with human resource about their serious workplace romances (Kolesnikova, 2012).
There are different types of workplace romances. Some are based on level while others on motivation. Based on level, three categories exist; peer to peer romance, subsidiary and administrator romance and finally romance between work partners when either one or both are married. In most cases, romances between subsidiary and managers do not end well. Other workers claim that they tend to distrust a coworker who is in a relationship with an administrator as compared to peers who are involved romantically. This is because they believe those peers experience unfair advantage over the others. Romances between workers who are married may also prove to be chaotic to the organization in which they work (Horan, 2013).
Workplace romances based on motivation may either be a fling, a compassionate romance or a useful romance. A fling romance is driven by the work mates’ desire for adventure whereas a compassionate romance is driven by each partner’s true love. Useful romance occurs when a subsidiary worker gets involved romantically with an administrator so as to gain job wise and when an administrator gets involved with a subordinate so as to boost his/her ego (Horan, 2013).
Workplace romances have countless risks which must be put into consideration when deciding the best course of action. The results may be either positive or catastrophic to the organization and this greatly depends on the nature of the romance. Workplace romances may result in long-term relationships when motivated by sincere love between both partners. They can also increase workers job fulfilment which in turn may lead to better job performance (Ariani, 2011).
Nevertheless, workplace romances may also prove catastrophic in cases where some workers may sue their work partners for sexual assault. This may build a lot of negative publicity for the organization in question. Romances at work may also present an opportunity for married people to cheat on their spouses or for other employees to obtain benefits such as promotions which are dishonorable. The organization also faces the risk of being termed as prejudicial for intervening in workplace romances. The organization may also face the blame for the poor performance of some workers after taking part in their breakups (Ariani, 2011).
Work romances involving subordinate and superiors in most cases result in other workers feeling that they are being underprivileged and others being over-privileged job wise. When other co-workers perceive a situation as biased, they may develop feelings of anguish, frustration and hatred towards those involved in the biases. This may motivate them to take actions so as to end the unfairness (Horan, 2013).
Co-workers dating administrators may be mistrusted, deemed as less reliable and even deceived by other workmates. Trust between employees is critical as it affects employee fulfilment and the overall organization performance. Employees who don’t perceive their superiors as dependable may also question their feedback and act aggressively towards them. They may even end up reporting them for their involvement in workplace romance (Horan, 2013).
Human resource department should use a tactical approach when trying to manage workplace romances. Leaders of human resource should adopt an approach that aims at reducing the risks involved and also maximizing the benefits. Workplace romances cannot be successfully banned but can be managed through policy and administrative training. Firm policies involving zero leniencies and job termination may drive employees who are involved in workplace romance to keep it a secret. This may result in catastrophic outcomes when the workplace romances end badly. Thus it is important for the human resource administrators not to come up with regulations that restrict workplace romances, but rather, formulate policies that are reasonable and that will result in both cost reduction and value addition (Kolesnikova, 2012).
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Some organizations have adopted the use of lawful documents such as a dating contract. A dating contract clearly shows that both the company and the employees involved recognize the existence of the romance. This may limit the company’s responsibility but it may remove any positive results of the workplace romances. There are a number of approaches that the human resource leaders may adopt so as to manage workplace romances (Ariani, 2011).
The human resource department may adopt a written code of ethics and the use of business culture. In this case, administrators will discourage such behavior thus people will be demoralized from getting involved in workplace romances so as to get job promotions. Policies pertaining to workplace romances should include the category of romances that are acceptable at the workplace, category of romances that are discouraged, category of romances that are forbidden and actions that the administration will take in the event of violation of the policies. The administration should also evaluate the percentage of employees who observe these policies as a way gauging performance with the organization’s aims (Kolesnikova, 2012).
Human resource leaders should manage workplace romances as part of the company’s performance supervision scheme. If a worker’s performance is negatively affected by workplace romance, the supervisor may reprimand the worker by use of performance assessments. An organization may react in various ways when faced with the challenge of workplace romance. The organization may choose to either take no action, take disciplinary action such as transfer, or take positive action such as therapy. Organizations should take action when the performance of employees involved in workplace romances declines so as to ensure the overall performance of the company is not affected eventually (Ariani, 2011).
Another approach is to train administrators and supervisors about workplace romances. A lot of human resource leaders lack training about workplace romances thus take no action when workplace romances arise. They should be educated on how to provide guidance to workers who are involved romantically. They should be educated on how to manage the risks and the benefits that come as a result of workplace romances. Human resource leaders should also be educated on how to handle grievances of harassment may result from workplace romances (Ariani, 2011).
Employers should regulate workplace romances. They should do this so as to ensure that those who date at the workplace do not affect the performance of the company. The human resource leaders should be in charge of managing the workplace romances. They should ensure that their approach is sensible and strategic so as to avoid risks such as lawsuits and to maximize the benefits to the organization. They should be well trained in dealing with romances at the workplace so as to reduce the negative consequences caused by those relationships. If workplace romances are ignored and no actions are taken, the outcome may harm the performance of individual workers and even the whole company at large. Thus it is necessary for employers to put in place policies and strategies that govern workplace romances (Kolesnikova, 2012).
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- Ariani, M. G., Ebrahimi, S. S., & Saeedi, A. (2011). Managing workplace romance; a headache for human resource leaders. International Proceedings of Economics Development and Research, 19, 99-103.
- Horan, S. M., & Chory, R. M. (2013). Relational implications of gay and lesbian workplace romances: Understanding trust, deception, and credibility. The Journal of Business Communication (1973), 50(2), 170-189.
- Kolesnikova, J., & Analoui, F. (2012). Managing human resource romance at work: towards a “considerate” approach. Journal of Management Development, 32(1), 36-56.