Well, the old ‘office romance’ is something that time and time again “just happens”. First you have the ‘looks’, the ‘smiles’, the lingering glances and then conversation, a date and before you know it – it’s a full-on office romance.
This can happen when new staff start in the organisation or it can happen between staff members who have been there a long time. Beware of the ‘married’ staff member having an affair at the office, because that will more often than not really destroy the office culture – through gossip, secrets, poor productivity and potential risk to employees from an aggrieved ‘partner’.
So how do we manage office romances? Firstly have you, as manager, decided you need a policy around this. I think trying to ban any office romances is a mistake and can lead to good staff leaving your organisation. It’s more about how you ‘manage’ these romances.
What are the boundaries – what is acceptable in the workplace and what is not. The occasional peck on the cheek type of affection would not be considered offensive, but an all out tongue wrestling match may be. Also if one or both of the parties have offices, beware of the constant closed doors – it only leads to gossip and distracted employees.
Have the team dynamics changed because of this new relationship? What is the position of both parties and does this new ‘alliance’ change the balance so that other team members feel threatened or challenged?
As the manager, you need to be aware of all of this and set boundaries as soon as you can. You may need to make some changes to teams to avoid an upset in team dynamics – it’s all about ‘how’ you manage office romances.
At the end of the day, office romances don’t always end in disaster and tears. But be mindful that you may lose staff as a result, some staff may resent it, feel threatened or even criticize your management style because of it.