Love is in the air; potential problems with workplace romances

Is love in the air in your workplace? As an employer have you ever thought of the problems associated with workplace romances? Here, we get to the heart of the topic by looking at how to effectively deal with relationships in the office.

A survey conducted by the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM), revealed that 41 per cent of office workers have experienced a romantic relationship in the workplace. With figures higher than a lot of us probably expected, this topic definitely deserves discussion.

Here, we reveal the potential problems that can arise as the result of workplace romances and how to effectively deal with them.

workplace romances

A ban is a no-no!

While as an employer you may deem it appropriate to have an all-out ban on personal relationships at work, this is both unrealistic and a breach of the Human Rights Act. A blanket ban on romantic relationships is likely to aggravate employees, fuel the relationship and create friction between the employer and employee, not to mention the potential law suits that could arise.

workplace romances

Make it clear

Having a clear policy will ensure that everyone knows exactly where they stand. In the policy, define what you deem as “inappropriate conduct” in the workplace, which could lead to disciplinary action. It is also worth outlining a broad ban on “intimate behaviour” while at work, such as kissing, holding hands or touching. The employer is also within their rights to ensure couples keep communications at work, strictly professional, which extends to electronic communications. For example, sending and receiving emails, should not focus on subjects which are not related to work. Employees should be made aware that management have the right to monitor such exchanges and intervene if necessary.

workplace romances

Talk is cheap

Often the biggest worry about workplace romances is the exchange of information between the two parties. Employees should be made aware that it is a breach of their contract to share confidential information. This extends to discussing the proceedings in meetings, staff changes or other commercially sensitive information. Again, this is an area which can be outlined in the company’s policy, highlighting that discussing confidential matters with a partner can lead to disciplinary action.


When love becomes heartbreak

The breakup of a work relationship often has the biggest impact on the workplace. When relationships turn sour, this can lead to a feeling of unease between the two individuals involved with the impact being felt by the rest of the workplace. And of course, not forgetting the headache it can give a manager! In order to deal with this effectively, having a rule in your policy, which states that employees should inform management if there is a change in their personal relationship, can help with this. Notifying employers gives management time to address any potential problems early, as well as reminding employees of what is expected of them in the workplace, in light of the separation.

Workplace romances

Refrain from playing cupid

It’s worth bearing in mind, that sexual harassment can take a wide variety of forms. In the employment tribunal case of Craddock v Fontoura t/a Countyclean, the business owner’s behaviour was deemed as sexual harassment after he frequently suggested that a male and female colleague should form a relationship. Despite honourable intentions, the employer’s need to play cupid between staff was unwelcome.

workplace romances

In summary, office romances aren’t always hearts and flowers. Employees are entitled to a private life, and employers should only interfere when this has a direct impact on the workplace. Consult HR can help you with your staffing problems. If you need help with this, contact one of our HR experts on 078 5808 9006 or get in touch here.

Top HR tips to beat the January blues in the workplace

This month, keep morale and productivity high, thanks to our top HR tips to beat the January blues in the workplace.

Whether it’s fact, or a mere fragment of our imagination, this year, so-called Blue Monday – the most depressing day of the year –  falls on the 15th of January. Christmas is but a distant memory, the credit card bills have arrived and that next holiday seems an eternity away. All of this can leave your workforce feeling a little sluggish, which is turn can see a decrease in productivity. So what steps can you take to keep the office a hive of activity? Here are our top 10 HR tips to beat the January blues in the workplace…

January blues

TIP #1: A survey by Investors in People revealed that 44% of employees questioned said that a welcome back from bosses would increase their motivation. So on a Monday morning, kick start the working week by showing an interest in employees’ weekends; the perfect way to boost morale.

TIP #2: There’s no denying that staff like to feel part of the company and in the loop. A weekly company newsletter is the perfect way to communicate new year wishes and set out plans for a great year ahead.

TIP #3: No doubt after the festive period, staff will be keen to book their next holiday. You may find that you are inundated with holiday requests after Christmas and rather than increasing stress levels and fobbing staff off, ensure you have a good holiday request process in place. Dealing with holiday requests swiftly will make sure staff feel valued, which in turn will affect their productivity and work quality.

January blues

TIP #5: Don’t forget to acknowledge staff who have worked antisocial or additional hours over the festive period. Let’s face it – no one likes working when others are on holidays so ensure this is highlighted at their next appraisal.

TIP #6: January is the perfect time to set out your plans for the year. A recent survey revealed that 47% of UK workers are looking to change jobs in 2018. The main reason? Poor management was citied by a huge 49%. With this in mind, communication is key to retaining staff. It’s a great idea for line managers to sit down with staff to discuss the key role they play in the success of the business and how the work they carry out meets this. This should be a two-way conversation, allowing the employee to contribute their objectives too.

TIP #7: The come-down after the festive season brings with it increased stress levels and lower moods. Evidence links physical exercise to good mental health so ensure your employees can get out at lunchtime. A quick walk in the fresh air can do wonders for a person’s mood and in-turn, help them regain their focus for the afternoon’s work. And when it comes to breaks, encourage staff to take theirs away from their desk. So many people are guilty of eating while they work so ensure your office boasts a welcoming staff room, canteen etc, so staff have a place of respite to escape to for a few minutes each day.

TIP #8: Give praise where praise is due! During a time when moods are low, the easiest way to pick staff up is by telling them you appreciate the good job they’re doing. Acknowledging hard work is an instant mood booster and staff will be keen to keep the momentum going!

January blues

TIP #9: Assess employee training needs for the year ahead. Learning and self development go hand-in-hand and are the perfect staff incentive, with both the employee and the employer benefiting. Encouraging learning and development of skills increases staff retention levels and motivation.

TIP #10: Be stress-aware! Post-Christmas blues, changes in staff, performance reviews and new goals for the year ahead can trigger stress in staff. Promote an open discussion on stress in the workplace, offering advice to staff on stress management, which they can use to their advantage. Plus, ensure managers and supervisors are aware of the symptoms of stress and how best to approach it.

If it suits your business, give flexible working hours some thought. A flexi hours system can help reduce stress and has been shown to increase productivity in the workplace.

This January, use these top tips in your workplace to keep moods and productivity high.