Workplace Romance: To be together? Or to not be together?

 
by Kim Merrikin, Seattle Goodwill
March 25, 2014
 

Navigating workplace romances can be tricky. Most people aspire to finding love in life… and occasionally someone at work may spark some interest… but work may not be the right place to develop a romantic relationship. If you find yourself in a situation where a potential relationship is developing at work, be sure to think about how it will affect your day-to-day work life, as well as your employment status.

Many employers have written policies for workplace relationships—and it’s important that you are familiar with them & understand them before entering a relationship. It’s likely that the policy includes some guidelines, and some strict rules. For example, many employers may allow peer coworkers to date (but discourage it), but very strictly limit relationships between staff & supervisors because of issues like favoritism (and what could happen when the relationship ends). If you’re thinking about initiating a workplace relationship, make sure you’re not violating company policy—and understand the consequences if you do.

One of the best moves you can make, if you decide to enter a romantic relationship at work, is to let your supervisor know. Whether you’re following company policy or not, honesty is always the best policy. Letting your supervisor know will put them in a position to help you appropriately navigate policies as much as possible. If you are “breaking the rules”, it’s better to “come clean” and face the consequences in lieu of your honesty, rather than get caught and face the penalties.

Once you’ve entered the relationship, and let your employer know about it, be sure to continue to focus on work while you’re at work. While there’s some overlap between your personal & work life with a workplace relationship, it shouldn’t affect your performance at work—even if it’s a bad day in your relationship, it’s extremely important to not let that interfere with your work. If the relationship ends, you still need to maintain professionalism and avoid hostility or unpleasantness. Even outside of work hours, you still have the responsibility to represent your employer well when socializing with coworkers. This includes how you portray your relationship & employer on social media.

If the situation arises where a coworker is trying to initiate a relationship, but you’re not interested, be sure to clearly say no & set defined boundaries. Likewise, if a supervisor ever tries to use his or her authority to get you to do something you don’t want to do—CLEARLY say “NO.” If the situation continues, bring it to the attention of the human resources department. If the unwanted pursuits continue, it’s considered sexual harassment, and has absolutely no place in the workplace!

At the end of the day, it comes down to this: Value your job. You were hired because you bring skills & value to the team—and engaging in a workplace relationship could jeopardize that. Don’t risk your job—or future employment—by engaging in a relationship!


 

Kim fancies herself a professional communicator. She has experience in writing, graphic design, and social media, and is always looking to expand her knowledge base into other fields of communication. She loves people, coffee & Seattle (including the rain).

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