« Business Continuity

Businesses need to be prepared for when office romances begin and end

Businesses need to ensure that they have written documentation of proper procedures for office romances to avoid any type of backlash.
Businesses need to ensure that they have written documentation of proper procedures for office romances to avoid any type of backlash.

Within the last few months, CEOs from two major companies, Best Buy and Stryker Corp., resigned amid allegations of affairs with employees, and have left a bitter taste in the mouths of fellow workers and customers. While human beings are going to have relationships with one another, things become complicated when those relationships involve the company that they work for.

According to a CareerBuilder online survey of about 7,800 full-time workers, 40 percent said they've dated someone at work and almost 30 percent said they've hooked up with someone above them in company rank.

Some companies do not even have a policy in place, either written or verbal, as reported in an MSNBC article. The Society for Human Resource Management states that only 18 percent of organizations have a written policy while 7 percent have a verbal policy and 72 percent have nothing at all.

Dean Debnam, CEO at an employee benefits firm, said an interesting aspect to office romances is that in many instances, workers have no idea if their company even has a policy about the issue.

"Human beings are going to interact, and these relationships are going to happen," he said. "But it is essential that companies have clear policies in place that outline what is acceptable and what is not so that there are no perceptions of inequality, favoritism or an imbalance of power."

Without a sure set of rules in place, businesses could especially suffer from romances that turn sour. Junior employees could feel pressure from sexual advances from managers while others might attempt to sleep-their-way-to-the-top. In either scenario, sexual harassment cases are very real possibilities. 

In order to prevent this type of damage, businesses can benefit from partnering with a certified business continuity consultant. These professionals can work with managers and executives to establish rules for appropriate behavior and how to avoid the pitfalls that can come with office romances.