Even more shocking is that 40% of those 18-29 year olds would date their supervisors.According to a Career Builder survey, interoffice dating has a fairly high success rate--of the 38% of people surveyed that dated a co-worker at least once, 31% went on to marry that co-worker! If you believe the stats of new employees entering the workforce, it might seem so.But a lot of companies don't let the rank and file decide--they adopt policies that ban or limit workplace dating--all in the name of lowering liability.Enforcing these policies can take their toll on a company. Earlier this year, Best Buy's chief executive, Brian Dunn, stepped down after an investigation by the board discovered he had shown "extremely poor judgment" with a 29-year-old female employee.While it can make some managers uncomfortable to tell employees what to do on their off time, the purpose of a formal policy is to keep employees effective and productive.Make sure employees understand the position of the company isn’t to control their personal lives, but to ensure a fair and comfortable work environment for everyone. How much jurisdiction does a business leader really have over employees’ off-time?Just a few of the real-world difficulties caused by workplace romance that I’ve seen during my career include: Interestingly, the Society for Human Resource Management reports that while HR professionals aren’t reporting more workplace romances, the number of companies that have adopted formal romance policies has sharply increased. Can a policy protect your company from charges of sexual harassment or favoritism, conflict or morale problems?
Lest you feel hard-hearted for discouraging workplace lovebirds, consider the turmoil and drop in productivity that can be caused by gossip, poor morale, and accusations of favoritism or sexual harassment charges.Here are a few common stipulations that companies include in an employee dating policy: Having a formal policy doesn’t mean you have to write someone up every time you find out about a casual date.However, you do have to act immediately if productivity is affected, if you get complaints from employees, or gossip and conflict are tearing a department apart. Some conversation starters might include: Should employees get involved, some companies have the partners sign a “love contract.” Such documents specify that the relationship is consensual, that the pair will behave professionally, won’t engage in favoritism nor will take legal action against the employer, or each other, if the relationship ends.Don't put a policy in place to control the behavior of a few employees whose behavior is out of line.Consequently, fraternization policies that prohibit friendships and association outside of the workplace cause employees to deceive and cover up.These relationships make sense because the commonalities that coworkers share such as proximity, shared interests, age, children, and similar incomes, encourage friendships.