It's become increasingly common for us to be asked by clients to help them to deal with both conduct and performance issues caused by colleagues engaged in personal relationships or worse where personal relationships between colleagues have ended acrimoniously.
Much as we don't advocate having policies for the sake of it, this is one area where we feel its beneficial to set some ground rules from the outset and to do this we've developed a Staff Relationships Policy which we routinely include in clients' Staff Handbooks.
In essence, the policy sets out the expectations on all parties to behave professionally and appropriately both during any relationship and afterwards.
The policy places an obligation on both employees in the relationship to declare the relationship to their respective line managers, or to a more senior manager where the relationship is between an employee and their line manager or someone more senior again.
Where one party to the relationship is the line manager of the other, appropriate measures can then be taken to prevent conflicts of interest and to avoid allegations of favouritism or victimisation.
Perhaps most importantly though, the policy states clearly that formal action may be taken by the company where a personal relationship adversely affects the employees's work or the workplace itself and that where a situation becomes untenable, dismissal of one or both parties may result.
For more information on our Staff Relationships Policy, please get in touch.
Some questions to ask yourself before on embarking on a personal relationship with a work colleague:
- Is the person more junior than me?
- I am in a position of influence over their career?
- Are either of us already in a relationship?
- Has the person given me any indication that they would be interested in a personal relationship with me (being friendly towards me isn't enough)?
- If they're single, I'm not their manager and they're potentially interested in me, would I cope with being rejected now or if subsequently they decide they're not interested in me without holding a grudge or it affecting my working relationship with them?
Some dos and don't for those in relationships with work colleagues too ...
- Be discrete; don't share the details of your relationship with your colleagues.
- Keep your hands to yourself whilst you're at work (including during break times).