Organisations become a breeding ground for intimate relationships to flourish. Values like professionalism have blended in our society after the industrial revolution but the grain of romance and love has been in our DNA ever since Adam and Eve. Being attracted to a colleague isn’t a rare occurrence. It is organic to build relationships with people we see everyday  and eventually date them. Considering the amount of time people spend together at office, where else are couple expected to meet.

Should there be a dating policy in your office? 

Dating at workplace raises two important debates. First, some say romance at work place keep the employees happy and productive and the other argument is that romance at work place can also hamper the productivity of employees. Many people believe they are happy going to work when they are in a workplace romance.

On the other hand, some believe that employee dating dynamic can cause distraction, moral issues and claims of real or perceived favouritism. Also, if the relationship goes for a toss, the parties will still have to see eachother daily at workplace. In extreme cases after the relationship ends, either of them might want to leave the organisation, this might mean that the organisation will lose an important employee.

 

What is a dating policy? 

It’s a wise idea for organisations to have a written employee dating policy. Policies are developed to guide employees in creating a legal, ethical and harmonious workplace.

How can organizations handle dating in the workplace?

  1. No dating policy- No-dating policy generally ban dating between a supervisor and their subordinate.
  2. Notification policy- Another option is to inform whenever they enter into consensual relationship. In this type of policy they will also need to inform you whenever a relationship ends.

How to build an effective dating policy?

  1. While drafting a dating policy, organizations must find a balance for protecting their own interests whilst considering the human rights and well-being of the employees. The dating policy should choose between full freedom, freedom with restrictions or freedom with disclosures.
  2. The aim of the dating policy is to reduce your potential legal liability. Any policy should be applied consistently and should set out clearly how decisions will be made.
  3. Categorically prohibit romantic relationships between a supervisor and a subordinate as this could lead to unnecessary favoritism. Many organizations strictly forbid intimate relationships even outside supervisory relationships. Corporates also restrain hookups between employees and customers. Completely banning dating at workplace is not the solution as it might not be even possible.
  4. Any policy that is made should be in writing and must be provided in the employee handbook and distributed to all employees. Proactively setting policies are only in the best interest of the company.
  5. Categorically state your sexual harassment policy as well along with the dating policy. In the case of The Viral Fever (TVF), the company lost its valuable employee. An ex-employee of an online entertainment channel TVF had accused Arunabh Kumar of molesting her for over two years. In his defense, he mentioned he only complimented her by calling her sexy. Later he had to resign from his post of CEO because of the sexual harassment case. To avoid such fiasco, organization must have a formal prevention of sexual harassment policy. Employees should be trained that the company has zero tolerance towards sexual harassment at workplace. It is important to bring out a clear distinction between sexual harassment policy and dating policy to avoid unnecessary disputes.

While there can be no hard and fast rules when it comes to dating but it is in the best interest to have something concrete in place to avoid hampering business.

You must categorically tell employees that office romances, relationships or affairs should be kept separate from the work environment. While you may not be interested in the business of managing romantic relationships, you may want to consider setting policies to avoid unnecessary staff turnover and protect your business from a potential lawsuit.

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