We all know that an office affair can be a bad idea for an employee’s career, but what happens when it’s your company that becomes the backdrop for a lusty rendezvous?
When your employees mix business with pleasure, you need to take note. For the owner of a small business, an office affair could spell disaster for business operations. Decreased productivity, a drop in morale and sexual harassment charges are all possible consequences of an office romance that turned sour.
While some office romances may go swimmingly well, they may still have a poor impact on your bottom-line, especially if the couple spends more time in the filing room than at their desks. Be aware of these situations that could wreak havoc on your business.
The manager and his mistress: While any office romance has the potential to cause problems, the affair between a supervisor and a subordinate can have the largest ramifications. In these situations, promotions and pay rises could be associated with favouritism, especially if other employees are aware of the affair, which can have the entire office getting hot under the collar.
Familiarity breeds contempt: Your employees will most likely feel that it is impossible for a manager to be fair or objective if he or she is personally involved with a subordinate, and they would probably be right. Nevertheless, the professionalism and credibility of that individual will be compromised, which will invite a lack of respect from employees.
When lust leaves a bitter taste: When the relationship comes to an end, you may have a situation where one party wants the affair to continue and the other person doesn’t. This could lead to a hostile work environment with employees who are no longer collaborating peacefully, and you will have to step in as mediator to make sure everyone plays nice.
Is it just me or is it hot in here? One situation you don’t want is when your client is the one who notices the boardroom windows are steamed up. An office relationship can spur gossip and rumours which are not only disruptive to staff productivity but can ruin your company’s reputation. Welcome to your own personal PR nightmare.
Losing your edge: If the affair goes awry there is potential for one of your employees to seek employment elsewhere. This means that you risk losing strong employees who feel they can no longer work in the same building. This concern is felt strongly by owners of small businesses, which are affected by losses in productivity more acutely than their larger counterparts.
So while your first inclination might be to forbid all office romances, you’ll soon realise that this is impossible and unrealistic. When work requires two people to spend hours perched close together over the same document, the stage can be set for the development of attraction and there is nothing you can do to prevent it. Rather formulate a clear-cut policy on workplace romance that includes what is allowed and what the consequences will be if the rules are broken. Be specific and clear in your definitions so that you can’t be accused of encroaching on employee rights.
The fact is, we are all human and our hormones don’t shut off when we walk through an office door. All you can do to protect your business is ensure that your employees know exactly what the company policy is and perhaps Susan in HR might think twice before blowing a kiss at Jim in Finance.