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The do’s and don’ts of office romances

Posted by on Sep 6, 2011 in HR Issues, Moneyville | 0 comments

By Sheryl Smolkin

Read this article and comments at Moneyville.ca 

When I watch a sitcom like Grey’s Anatomy where virtually all of the characters are involved in torrid workplace romances, it seems very unprofessional and highly unrealistic. But business relationships that evolve from “like” to “love” happen more frequently than you might think.

A CareerBuilder Canada survey conducted early this year revealed that over 30 per cent of survey participants have dated someone they worked with, and almost 40 per cent of this group reported that they went on to marry the person they first met on the job.

However, if an office romance goes bad, the resulting angst can create a toxic environment for both the unhappy couple and other co-workers. And the net result may be that sooner or later, one or both of the former lovers may either feel compelled to look for another job, or be fired.

Here are some dos and don’ts of office flirtations that may help you stay out of trouble:

– Find out if your company has a policy about dating co-workers. Make sure both of you are aware of any potential rules or consequences.

– Understand that if your co-worker is married or in a committed relationship, he or she is likely not a good bet, even if he says it’s over.

– Keep your relationship outside the office. Don’t let your romance affect your performance or others on the job.

–  Be discreet. Avoid kissing or other forms of touching on the job. Confide in as few people as possible.

–  If your relationship becomes serious, tell your boss in person so she doesn’t find out from office gossip.

– Get involved with your boss or subordinate. Relationships where there is a power imbalance can be a recipe for disaster. No one wants to be accused of sexual harassment.

– Favour your partner when it comes to giving out plum assignments or conducting performance reviews.

– Use office email to trade love notes or other less friendly communications after you break up. Many employers monitor emails and you never know when co-workers are looking over your shoulder.

-Change your status update on social media sites to “in a relationship” and post pictures of the two of you together at work or on your time off.

-Forget every cell phone now has a camera. Even casual encounters can fuel the rumour mill if they are posted on You Tube.Because we spend most of our waking hours at work, chemistry between co-workers is almost inevitable. However, if the relationship flourishes, at some point it may make sense for one of you to move on. At least then if your organization ever has financial problems or layoffs, you won’t have all of your eggs in one basket.



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