Dating in the Workplace: To Date or Not to Date?

Dating in the Workplace: To Date or Not to Date? 

“Employees make the best dates. You don't have to pick them up and they're always tax-deductible.” - Andy Warhol 

Although Andy Warhol’s quote is humorous, it brings up a very serious issue: dating in the workplace. The question “to date or not to date?” comes up in many companies between employees, but a policy should be put in place when the company is started in order to prevent any complications. As a Human Resource Management professional, you are responsible for your company’s HR needs and making sure it runs smoothly and efficiently. This may be hindered by a major breakup between employees. However, preventing your employees from dating could cause unwanted resentment. So what do you do? First consider the Pros and Cons of allowing dating in the workplace. Here are just a few. 

• People who work together should know each other better than two people set up on a blind date, improving the chances that their relationship lasts. Because the two employees work together, they see each other almost daily, providing them with ample time to learn each other’s work ethics, personalities, and even beliefs. These are characteristics that help determine whether or not a pair matches. Thus, relationships among co-workers have the chance of lasting because they have already skipped the awkward introductions and see that there is a possibility to have a lasting relationship (the reason that they have decided to pursue a relationship). 

• Preventing dating could cause greater complications than allowing dating. That is because some employees, despite established policies against dating co-workers, will try to date anyway. This encourages sneaking around behind the boss’s back and could result in termination if and when the boss finds out. By allowing dating and establishing a dating policy, a small business owner can still make sure employees keep their private lives private while also undercutting deception. 

• This could improve employee contentment. Even if employees do not want to date, they may gain respect for their employer because their employer has shown them that they are being trusted. They also can see that their employer believes them to be mature and responsible enough to make the appropriate decision. 

• Breakups can be bad enough when you are dating. Imagine then having to see your ex almost every day, being constantly reminded of the relationship which now lays in pieces. Allowing dating within your company opens the possibility, if you do not clearly define your policy, of harsh breakups disturbing your company’s productivity. 

• The line between “private life” and “work life” becomes blurred. Does the couple now get to walk down the halls holding hands? Are they allowed to make date plans or exchange a kiss as they pass in the halls? 

• Relationships within a company can be awkward for those not involved in the relationship. This problem is enhanced with businesses with less than 200 employees because employees know a greater percent of the company (as opposed to larger businesses where a single employee may only know part of their division) and works with more of the company with greater frequency. Not only could this be awkward after a breakup, but it could become embarrassing to see a couple. Perhaps Employee A had a crush on Employee B, but Employee B becomes romantically involved with Employee C. This could make Employee A jealous, whereas prior it was a harmless crush that did not disrupt productivity. 

Every company is different and every company has different dating policies. The key is to determine what works best for your business. Speaking with other companies may help, as might speaking with your Human Resource Peers to help companies establish policies and create employee handbooks. They can go through with you how to create a policy that will work best for your company because, after all, the above Pros and Cons may not apply to your business and are only a small list of considerations. Whatever your policy is, it is important to implement it. Human Resource Software will help you track incidents and document policies. Make sure your employees know your policy by either informing them when they apply for a position or providing them with employee training to inform them once they have been hired, again documenting this in our HR Systems

About the Author
Carolyn Sokol writes about issues that may affect small businesses such as HR Management Software (HRM Software) and HR Payroll Technology. She is a founder of which helps match small businesses to the right HR service provider for their particular needs. Her background is in marketing and communications, employee education and training, development of policies and procedures and the ongoing delivery of outstanding service to customers. Remember to Reference Check HRIS Software!

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