Only a few people want to fall in love at their job workplaces. However, many people still find themselves in these situations. Can these affairs work, and are they effective?
Dating a co-worker is not a bad idea, but we advise our readers to abstain from romantic entanglements within their workplace because the fallouts from these relationships are often messy and can be damaging to the trajectory of your career.
You should not engage in casual office flings. Intimate relations with co-workers are going to affect your career negatively. Why risk your job over a casual fling? Casual flings are not worth the risk to your career, so avoid them as much as possible.
The emotional burden of dating is exacerbated when it is with a co-worker. It makes it harder for you to be productive at work, and that frustration is usually vented to your partner.
If you choose to enter one, you should be aware of the potential issues it can cause. Therefore, you should have total certainty that you are making the right decision before starting a workplace romance.
As an entrepreneur or a business owner, this issue becomes more important as you strive to create a safe working environment for all your employees. However, an outright ban on office romance will only lead to secret relationships. Their effect will still be felt on how teams within the organisation function and in the interactions between co-workers. It can also lead to a toxic work environment.
The organisation should outline rules that guide office romance and take measures to minimise the effects of workplace relationships. Organise counselling sessions for employees who wish to engage in an office romance. It would help the employees manage the emotional strain from the affair.
The organisation should also keep a watchful eye on co-workers who are dating. Waivers can be drafted that indemnify the organisation from the fallout of such affairs.
For employees who might engage in an office romance, Peak Performer has created a list of rules to guide you.
- Inform the HR manager:
The first thing to do when you enter an office affair is to make the management aware. They would outline the dos and don’ts that will guide your behaviour throughout the affair. In some cases, you will be referred for counselling or asked to fill out documents that show you are fully aware of the consequences.
It will also allow the company to prepare for a potential fallout if your affair goes sour. Withholding the information from management can put you and your partner at risk in cases of fraud or sexual harassment claims. Ensure that you keep the management informed throughout your time with that person.
- Avoid affairs with a supervisor or subordinate:
Dating a co-worker becomes uniquely difficult when it is between a junior and senior employee. The power dynamic at play always leads to questions about the sincerity of your romance. Promotions as a junior employee will be doubted especially if your partner is in a managerial role. There would also be questions about whether the relationship was mutual or was at the demands of the senior employee.
We advise that you shy away from workplace relationships. However, Cupid’s bow is not subject to our whims. In those situations, you should still inform the management and they can change your departments to ensure that there is no overlap between you and your partner.
You should also determine the extent to which you are willing to engage in a workplace relationship. If the company cannot change your department, we advise you to either break off the affair or move to a similar role in another organisation. Alternatively, you could remain in the company and bear the strain the relationship can cause on your well-being.
- Maintain professionalism at work:
Do not engage in public displays of affection when you are at the workplace. You should not be caught frolicking on work premises or during working hours with your partner. It calls into question your ability to function as an employee. Unprofessional behaviours like kissing or making out are one of the reasons most offices attempt to ban dating among employees.
Open displays of affection in the office will encourage your co-workers to form an opinion about your affair. It gives them insight into the intimacy between you and your partner. Lastly, PDA makes you look unprofessional and can lead to stagnation in your career.
Settle your disagreements outside the office:
Disagreements between you and your partner about your romance should not happen in the workplace. Love squabbles at work can throw off the balance of a team. It will lead to low productivity if you work closely with your partner. Your disagreements should not affect the way you perform office tasks that involve your partner.
If it will affect your productivity at work, inform the management. They can help you find a solution that allows you to work in another team or another department. Also, your romantic entanglement should not lead to fights in the workplace. You should understand that it affects not only you and your partner but also your colleagues.
Do not share details of your affair with co-workers:
You should keep the details of your romance private. Sharing these details can affect how your colleagues view you and your partner. They can use it to undermine and frustrate you at work. This can cause resentment towards your partner.
Sharing intimate details also questions your ability to remain professional and once again allows your colleagues to make comments about your affair. You shouldn’t avoid sharing these details with your co-workers.
Keep your romantic life private from the rest of your co-workers as much as possible. Do not discuss issues like your sex life, sexual partners or grievances you have with your partner with co-workers. Your relationship should not become a topic of discussion at the office.
- Avoid sharing sensitive information with your partner:
Sensitive data from the organisation should remain private. Sharing that information with your partner is against your employee code of conduct.
You should not discuss information they should not have access to with them. It can lead to security issues, leaks and ultimately termination of employment. There are cases where romantic partners have used such information to carry out fraud. You become an accomplice to fraud in such cases.
- Engage in counselling:
Enrol in the counselling services that your company provides. Counselling helps you to deal with the issues that come from your affair. Counselling also prevents the affair from becoming toxic and detrimental to the workplace. Dating can be stressful, especially with a colleague. Counselling helps you to deal with the stress that comes with dating.
Counselling also shows the management that you are willing to take steps to maintain productivity and prevent your romance from interfering with your work. It will also lead to a healthier relationship between you and your partner. Counselling would allow the two of you to work through the issues that you have in the affair.
- Inform HR when the relationship ends:
If the relationship ends, you should inform the management. Also, notify HR if the affair becomes toxic or your partner becomes abusive. They would be able to provide care and counselling on how to exit the affair.
Informing HR when it ends will allow them to monitor how the breakup affects your partnership with your ex and other team members. You can also alert them if it would be uncomfortable for you to work with your ex.
This should guide you on what to do if you find yourself in an office romance.
These romantic entanglements may have negative effects on your career.
You might ask, are there some negative effects of workplace relationships? Let’s explore some of them.
- They can reduce your productivity at work. The stress and distractions that come from working with your partner can reduce your efficiency.
- They can lead to stagnation in careers. It is especially true for relationships between subordinates and supervisors. There would be a reluctance to promote you as questions about how your affair might have influenced their decision would arise.
- Workplace affairs affect your interactions with colleagues in the office.
- They can lead to termination of employment or worse, implicate you in cases of fraud or criminal activities.
- Office romance comes with a lack of privacy due to the procedures that come with it.
Those are the consequences of engaging in romantic affairs with a co-worker. However, these relationships can work if you and your partner take the necessary steps to ensure that it does not affect your career or mental wellness.