Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire

Office Romance Guidelines to Maintain Corporate Culture This Valentine’s Day

In the month of February, it feels like love is all around. This just might be because February is the home of Valentine’s Day, the one day of the year put aside to appreciate your special someone. Along the way you’re also expected to buy flowers, chocolates, and probably even one of those little teddy bears holding a heart. Though some people might consider Valentine’s Day a commercial holiday, it can still inspire cupid to strike in your office.

If some of your employees were hit with cupid’s arrow, an office romance might be right around the next cubicle wall. But interoffice love is tricky, especially when it comes to maintaining your hard-won corporate culture.

Today your cubicle lovebirds might be saying “I’m yours”, but tomorrow they might be arguing loudly in the break room. Now the rest of your staff feels awkward and your corporate culture has taken a real hit.

Love is complicated at the best of times. In the office, it can be downright impossible to navigate. Still, don’t think office romance can’t happen in your corporate culture. According to a survey by CareerBuilder, 38 percent of workers have had a least one office dalliance.

Should You Ban Office Romance?
Since a love gone wrong can negatively impact your corporate culture, you might be considering banning office romance altogether. This might not be such a great idea.

Employees rarely enjoy working in environments with too many rules, and especially don’t appreciate working for companies that seemingly evaluate their personal lives.You might find your lovebirds going the Romeo and Juliet route and lying about their relationship.

In fact, sometimes office romance can have a fairytale ending. According to the same survey, 31 percent of responders said their office love story ended in wedding bells. And who wants to deny true love?

Your office shouldn’t double as a dating service, but if romance happens on the job, it might be best to implement policies to mitigate the effect on your organizational culture, instead of cracking down on these relationships.

Be Clear About The Rules
You want to protect the organizational culture you’ve spent hard work developing and maintaining. The best way to protect yourself against the bite of a love bug is to have clear rules in place for workers embarking on an office relationship.

You went to a lot of trouble hiring great people, connecting with them in the video interview, and training them into great workers. You don’t want to lose top talent because your rules on romance in the workplace aren’t clearly codified.

You want to make sure your company avoids any hints of sexual harassment, which is why having clear guidelines is so important. You might want to implement rules against employees dating superiors in their own department, for instance.

You’ll want to make sure any relationship in the workplace doesn’t affect the actual work being performed or an employee’s chances of advancement. These policies should be clear for all workers, and you should stress their function to protect employees against sexual harassment and favoritism.

Discourage PDA
PDA, or public display of affection, has no place in the workplace. There’s no way to ruin your organizational culture faster than make-outs in the break room. While you have clear policies to guard your company against sexual harassment, you should also have equally clear policies about what is and isn’t appropriate workplace behavior.

Remind workers just because they’ve been struck with cupid’s arrow doesn’t mean professional decorum should fly out the window. Suggest employees focus on their job and leave their affectionate displays for off-work hours in order to protect your organizational culture for those not interested in getting an eyeful.

Sign a “Love Contract”
In NBC’s hit sitcom The Office, manager Michael Scott ends up signing a “love contract” with paramour Jan to ensure their romantic relationship won’t impact their work relationship. Because it’s a sitcom, the contract isn’t all that effective, but this doesn’t mean it can’t work in your company.

Having an informed consent policy might be a good idea for maintaining your organizational culture in the face of dating coworkers. This “love contract” would state your workers know and understand the company’s policy on sexual harassment. The contract would work as an assurance dating employees understand the office rules before turning the first page in their love story.

Office romance might be messy, but if you want to ensure your corporate culture stays positive, you’ll want to address the issue head-on.

What are some ways you deal with office romance and still maintain your corporate culture? Share in the comments!

Image courtesy of Flickr Photo by Ron Doke

Heather Huhman

Heather R. Huhman is the Career & Recruiting Advisor for Spark Hire. She writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets, and is the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to Cubicle (2011), and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010).