Companies unprepared for office romances

The
office Christmas party romance may be something of a cliché but problems can
arise when the party is over, according to research.

A
survey by IRS Employment Review finds that HR managers may have to face
dilemmas with amorous staff in the aftermath of the festive season.

Although
the majority of survey respondents do not see office romances as problematic,
some believe there is a negative impact on productivity, team working and
performance. 

Workplace
relationships can become more problematic where managers and subordinates are
involved. 

The
key findings of the research 
conducted in November 2002 – are based on 43 responses from human resource
managers across the private and public sectors. 

Findings
include: 

● Less than one organisation in 10 has formal written
policies for dealing with workplace relationships, particularly between
managers and subordinates
● Nine in 10 respondents did not object to employees working in the same
division or geographical location – office or site.  However, this drops down to three-quarters of respondents who
would allow them to work in the same department.  Only half the respondents said they would let a couple work
together as part of a team.
● There are “unwritten rules” about what constitutes unacceptable
behaviour by employees, with more tolerance shown during workplace social
events.
● The most common management approach is to have a ‘quiet word’ with the
parties involved, although codes of conduct are becoming more common
● More than a quarter of respondents (26 per cent) report that nobody
within their organisation assumes responsibility for dealing with the complex
issue of relationships between managers and subordinates. 

IRS
Employment Review managing editor, Mark Crail said:

“The
issue of sex at work is being taken more seriously, even in the run up to
Christmas when the emphasis is on having fun at work celebrations.

"With
the UK’s long-hours work culture, people’s personal and professional lives will
inevitably merge.

"Anecdotal
evidence suggests that half of us meet our partner through work.  But with more tolerance of workers getting
together at social events, managers have to decide when a bit of fun lapses
into inappropriate behaviour during working hours.

"Increasing
numbers of employers now remind their staff about conduct at the Christmas
party, conscious of protecting staff and avoiding difficulties in the future.
The challenge for managers is to ensure that their policies don’t invade the
private lives of their staff but which do maintain a professional working
environment. ”

By Ben Willmott

 

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