The Impact Of Personal Relationships In The Workplace

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The Christmas office parties have a notorious reputation for where colleagues let go of their inhibitions and perhaps start a relationship with one of their colleagues. They’ve been working long hours on a project, it’s been a success, everyone is celebrating before going on holiday, more likely the drink is flowing and before you know it two colleagues you thought would never become a couple have now started a relationship. As an employer whatever the outcome of that relationship you need to be aware it will affect your business.

Where people in a relationship work together it can be perceived by others there may be preferential treatment being given to a partner, especially where at least one person in the relationship has authority and is a decision maker. This may not be the case in practice but other staff may believe this is more likely. It could also affect how a team or department function because other staff may believe there is ‘pillow talk’.

What happens when both of them want holiday at the same time or if they have an argument and break up? Again, this would impact not just the couple but other staff too including the disruption to your business.

It’s worthwhile having a clear policy on whether the Company allow relationships between colleagues. You have to protect the interest of your business but also appreciate your staff have a private life. Within the policy you would want to be clear about not affording preferential treatment to your partner (or any other relationship for that matter), and declaring the relationship where there could be influence of authority in the workplace. Most importantly, what options would the business have in the event the relationship breaks down, perhaps to move one of the couple to another team or department if possible or alternatives. The policy should be clear and reasonable.

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