Love is in the Air! HR Rules for Helping Workers Navigate Office Romances

52% of employees have engaged in a romantic relationship with a colleague. Here are 4 HR rules for navigating office romances.

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The office romance is not a new phenomenon. According to a 2018 survey by job site, 52% of employees have engaged in a romantic relationship with a colleague. For workers over 50, the rate is higher with 72% stating that they have been romantically involved with a coworker. And many of these relationships are long lasting: about 18-20% of married couples meet through work. In an international Monster poll from 2014, 27% of respondents said they would date a co-worker but that percentage may be on the decline due to a growing awareness of and intolerance for workplace sexual harassment. In this changing environment, HR needs to put modern rules in place for helping workers navigate office romances while protecting their workers from harassment and preventing lawsuits, loss in productivity, and tension within the team.

office romances

HR Rules for Helping Workers Navigate Office Romances

People working full-time jobs spend most of their day at work so it’s only natural that relationships will be formed. While it would be easier for businesses if office romances didn’t happen, it isn’t realistic to ban them. Here are four HR rules for helping workers navigate office romances:

  1. Create an office romance policy

Every business should have an office romance policy in place to help protect workers and your business. Standard policies for workplace relationships often include:

  • Required disclosure of the relationship to the HR department when a supervisor, manager, executive or other company official in an influential position becomes involved with a subordinate. Some businesses choose to ban relationships between superiors and subordinates.
  • Some employers require anyone involved in a relationship that lasts longer than a certain period of time (such as two months) to disclose their relationship to HR regardless of whether a superior and subordinate are involved.
  • Employees who allow personal relationships with co-workers to adversely affect the work environment will be subject to disciplinary action.
  • During work hours and anywhere work is conducted, employees are expected to conduct themselves in an appropriate workplace manner that does not interfere with others or with overall productivity.
  • Employees are strictly prohibited from engaging in physical contact that could be seen as inappropriate in the workplace under any reasonable standard.

2. Mandatory sexual harassment and dating class

In addition to a mandatory sexual harassment training class, it is a good idea to include information about dating in the workplace that covers the company’s office romance policy. Educating employees about dating rules in the workplace can help workers protect themselves while they are involved in an office romance.

3. Meet with couples to discuss the dating policy

When workplace romances are discovered or reported, it’s a good idea to review the company’s dating policy with both parties. This is the time to flag any possible professional consequences that could happen as a result of their relationship or office romance policy violations and have the couple sign an acknowledgement of the company’s anti-sexual-harassment policies.

4. Be prepared to move an employee to a different department or position

If HR determines that an office romance creates a conflict of interest or puts an employee in a position for favoritism, they should be prepared to move one employee in the relationship to another department or to another position. This is particularly relevant when one party directly supervises the employee with whom they are involved or when it is necessary to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Navigating issues of the heart is challenging enough on their own, but adding in workplace dynamics makes it even tougher. HR rules for office romances are important for protecting employees and the business.

Partnering with Makai HR

Need help creating a policy for office romances? We’ve got you covered through HR outsourcing! When you partner with Makai HR you can get on with the business you are trying to grow while we take care of your employee needs from payroll to taxes, health insurance/benefits and worker’s compensation. You also gain peace of mind that you are compliant with all of Hawaii’s employer laws (if you’ve ever looked you know that the list is very long and changes happen). When choosing a PEO to partner with, there are many things to consider including cost, services, and technology solutions. 

With the cost of doing business in Hawaii at record highs, we know how important it is to keep labor costs in line with revenue. Our plans are priced competitively and include value-added services like time-in/time-out systems. Our customized PEO solutions are tailored to the size of your business and specific needs. We offer a 100% paperless solution which means that your employees can manage their needs through a computer, tablet, or phone. We can truly improve your employees’ work benefits while freeing you up to operate your business.

What are you waiting for? Companies that partner with a PEO benefit from 7-9% faster growth, 10-14% lower employee turnover; and they are 50% less likely to go out of business. Contact us today to get started!

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