“Two of my employees have recently started dating each other. I know I can’t control them outside working hours, but they are spending excessive amounts of time together in the office. Their relationship is affecting their work performance and distracting other staff members. What should I do?”
Office romance between employees is a no-no.
To avoid it in the future, write a statement into company guidelines that clearly outlines this as unacceptable behavior in the office. The consequences of this behavior should also be detailed so that proper action can be taken.
Assuming that this policy is not in place (therefore the uncertainty of what to do), fair labor practice would dictate that termination of employment is not an option. Both individuals need to be advised of your company’s new policy and that further interaction of this sort must be discontinued or one or both individuals would be asked to resign their position(s). The advisement should be documented and filed in each employee’s employment file.
I am an employee of a major outsourcing company. Our company has a strong policy regarding inter-office relationships. However, it still happens here.
In our company, the situation is discussed with both parties and it is strongly recommended that they keep their personal relationship outside the office. These interviews are documented and both parties are asked to sign documents that [states] they have understood and will comply with the rules. There is also a stipulation included that says if the behavior continues, one or both parties will be dismissed.
It is a hard line to follow. However, once made it must be maintained and made well known throughout the company.
It is understandable that inter-office romances are going to occur. If the couple is having trouble maintaining productivity now that they’ve started dating, just wait until they break up, or worse, if it becomes a long-term stable relationship. Even the consummate professional’s focus can be affected by emotional issues, and as far as emotional issues go, they can weigh heavy on anyone, man or woman.
My advice: support them. The happiness of your employees is far more important to the morale of the team. Instead of enforcing an inter-office zero dating policy, you have to set an example. Make it very clear that there will be zero tolerance with regards to their relationship affecting business. And here is the unfortunate reality. One of them will eventually have to be separated to another department, perhaps via a lateral move, where interaction is limited, or better, eliminated altogether. Pose the opportunity of a move up front. If they assure you that this is not necessary, you’ll have no choice but to make it very clear that productivity is the key to your business.
Then, wish them luck.