ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS IN THE WORKPLACE AND LESSONS TO BE LEARNT
By Oluwole Sheriff Olusanya
“The workplace is a perfectly wonderful place to meet a person and start a romantic relationship.” – Liz Ryan. Leader, Human Workplace Movement
Last week Monday, the same day I decided to pen down my thoughts and disappointments about our President’s ill-health and unceremonial return. Insider sent a mail stating that romantic relationships in the Workplace would be discussed among other issues on Radio One – Sterling Bank’s In-House Radio Station and I was so inspired because this is something we intentionally shy away from. Initially, I had plans to make it less trivial and quite informal in the wake of the Sallah celebrations but I think love is a very delicate issue and I do not want my female readers to be offended. However, we should not forget that today’s conservation would only be limited to “Love and the Place of Work” as the topic above suggests. So here I am, Your Office Love-Doctor.
Workplace Romance involves two members of the same organization who experience mutual attraction. As individuals spend increasing hours in the workplace, they begin to spend more time with co-workers building relationships. While employers may desire for employees to be happy, workplace romance is a highly sensitive subject, due to the lack of formal rules and policies in businesses, almost all working citizens will be somehow connected to a workplace romance. When your staff is putting in full-time work at your office, chances are they have a few admirers. It is, after all, where they are spending the bulk of their time, and the numbers prove it. Vault Rankings conducted a study on office romance in 2015, finding a number of interesting statistics. The company surveyed nearly 2,300 professionals and discovered that more than half had a workplace romance. When in a workplace people grow bonds with their co-workers that go beyond just friendly ‘lunch’ meetings. They grow in-depth relationships that deepen into romance. A place where people share a common interest, and spend most of their time, provides the perfect opportunity for love.
Additionally, Workplace Romance could either be Hierarchal or lateral; Hierarchal relationships are those that involve employees of different levels in the company, for example when one employee is a manager and one is an executive member. Lateral relationships are those that involve employees at the same level in the company, for example the manager of the human resource department and a manager in the accounting department.
In subsequent paragraphs, I would discuss the good and bad of workplace relationships and its effects on the overall wellbeing of the organization.
The Good – There is something about watching people fall in love that makes others feels positive as well. The attitudes of the two people involved in the romantic relationship are often uplifting and they become happier individuals, which reflect back on their attitudes toward their work and their co-workers. Likewise, creativity and innovation are other aspects associated with positive attitudes. Co-workers in a relationship spend a lot of time together both in and out of the workplace, so there is more opportunity to discuss new approaches and techniques to completing projects together. Romantic relationships in the workplace also allow the individuals involved to become more open and willing to cooperate with each other. In conjunction with having more positive attitudes toward their work, individuals are often easier to work with because they feel more comfortable expressing their ideas and criticisms with their significant other. Perhaps, a couple’s relationship can provide further communication channels within the workplace especially if the individuals are members of different departments. The personal connection the two individuals have with each other can allow the members of their respective departments to feel more comfortable communicating back and forth as well thereby improving teamwork, communication and cooperation.
The Bad – A fear that many employees have when thinking about getting involved in a romantic relationship with a co-worker is eliminating any potential they may have for upward mobility in the company. When office relationships end in a breakup, it can not only ruin the relationship between the two co-workers involved, but it can also eliminate any personal connections that the employees had with their previous partners’ department. More significantly, because the two employees will continue to see each other on a daily basis, the breakup can cause negative feelings toward the other individual as well as a reminder of one’s failure.
The Organisation’s Role – Timothy A. Dimoff, CPP explains how some companies are taking office romance policies a step further, “Many companies today are creating “Love Contracts” for people that are dating each other from the same company. The purpose of these contracts is to clearly outline specific guidelines and acknowledgements by both parties in the relationship. This protects the company, as well as defines the responsibilities and behavioural guidelines of the parties involved when they are at work.”
Conclusively, when it comes to workplace romance, it’s best to weigh the pros and cons first. You might find the love of your life or lose the best job you’ve ever had. At the very least, an office tryst will change the dynamic of your working environment. It could lead to diminished job performance, gossip and possible legal issues. Be sure to think it through before jumping right in. That way, you’ll at least be able to keep your head above water!
Truth be told, I absolutely encourage any honest and truthful relationship between two consenting parties who are poised to make everything in the affair stand the test of time and lead all the way to the altar no matter where their love story begins. Guess What? I tried it too.
Oluwole is a Relationship Officer with Sterling Bank Plc, Lagos