Work. The place we spend the majority of our time. In fact, most of us burn more hours making copies, crafting e-mails and attending meetings than spending time with family and friends.

It is no wonder the workplace has become the latest, bringing singles together in the name of love. The question becomes: What should employers do to protect themselves?

Romance policies, outlining the dos and don’ts of workplace romances (and, in some instances, even forbidding them), within an organization are the most common tool used. However, in a recent survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), only 42% of respondents had any sort of “romance policy” documented—leaving 58% in a vulnerable situation with the door open for interpretation.

As an organization, you should consider the legalities brought forth by workplace romances, particularly if a documented policy does not exist, including:

  • Sexual harassment claims
  • Claims of favoritism
  • Sharing of confidential information
  • Damage to organizational image.

Additionally, there is a shockingly low occurrence of training for management on how to handle these situations. In fact, the SHRM survey found only 19% of respondents had received any training regarding workplace romance.

[Related: Total Rewards and Workforce Strategies Course]

Workplace romances are going to happen. (I can personally attest to this, having married a former co‐worker.) It is critical for organizations to protect themselves. Document your policies, communicate your policies and train those who need to be trained. Workplace romances are the new definition of extracurricular—and a potentially risky one at that. Don’t leave yourself hanging.

Jennifer Cotter

Marketing Communications Specialist at the International Foundation

Favorite Foundation service/product: Benefit Bits videos

Benefits related topic that interests her most: Retirement SavingsFavoriteFoundation conference/event moment:Sitting in the focus groups at our 59th Annual Employee Benefits Conference—so much to learn from our members.Personal Insight:Don’t let Jennie’s soft voice and shy smile sway you—she’s a tenacious go-getter that isn’t afraid to challenge the status quo.  Ready to see what the world has to offer, Jennie enjoys exploring new places (traveling) and old spaces (antiquing).


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