Feeling the love in your company? Put something in writing about it

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As Valentine’s Day is upon us, we thought we would take the opportunity to talk about the minefield that dating in the workplace can be. As most of us spend most of our time at work, inter-office relationships can -and do- happen.

As an employer, you will most likely encounter them. You may feel like it’s not your place to interfere in the private life of your employees. We beg you to slightly differ. Employee dating can actually have an impact on your company.

Our first piece of advice is not to turn a blind eye when becoming aware of a relationship between your employees. Our second piece of advice is to consider implementing a dating policy.

Ground rules

Realistically, you can’t prevent your employees from falling in love, dating or having an affair. That being said, you can definitely implement rules and restrictions around it. Here are a few suggestions:

  • The relationship must be consensual: this one is a no-brainer.
  • The parties shouldn’t have a reporting relationship: this is probably the most complex aspect, as there could be legal questions as to whether the relationship is actually consensual given the imbalance of power. Also, Managers and other employees in a position of power or influence are usually held to higher standards when it comes to behavior and expectations in the workplace.
  • Dating should be disclosed: this will allow you to assess if there is a conflict of interest. If there is, you’ll need to make arrangements.
  • Dating shouldn’t impact your employees’ performance and job requirements: ultimately, you hired them to do a specific job, not to plan their wedding.
  • PDA and fighting are a definite no-no!

In order for your policy to work, you need to consistently apply it to all employees.

Discrimination & harassment-free workplace

Most provinces in Canada have legislation regarding discrimination and harassment in the workplace. As an employer, it falls on you to provide a safe workplace.

Your employee dating could open a can of worms on the above matters, even more so if the relationship turns sour.

You also have to think about your other employees, and how it could impact them. Office romances can be distracting and lead to more gossiping, a dip in productivity and legitimate concerns about favoritism and nepotism. It could lead to a toxic company culture, instead of the “happily ever after” ending.

Conclusion

As an employer, you definitely need to proceed with caution when it comes to dating within your company. Although you can’t prevent it, you shouldn’t encourage it either. Having a dating policy is not to control your employees’personal life, but to ensure a fair and comfortable work environment for everyone.

If your company need a dating policy, please contact us. We’ll be more than happy to assist you.

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