Feb 4, 2008

Love and Romance at Work

According to a new survey by TeamLease on office romance in India:

found that around 44% of respondents saw romantic liaisons as the quickest way to climb the corporate ladder.

Nearly 16% of respondents admitted to having been romantically involved with someone at their workplace. Of all cities surveyed, Delhi emerged the most candid, with 28% conceding to such affairs.

But despite the fact that 56% of executives felt that there was a negative impact on the quality and speed of work as a result of their relationships, most respondents believed that their organisations had no right to interfere in their personal affairs. The respondents also felt that women were equal partners to office romances and even initiated affairs, the survey pointed out.

Hmm, so are people saying that HR should do something or not.

On the one hand they are saying that the office should not interfere in their 'personal' lives. On the other hand a majority claim that their is a "negative impact" on the work. That sounds like people want to have their cake and eat it too.

As a HR consultant my suggestion to any clients of mine would be not to over-complicate the issue by having any policies around romance. Policies about sexual harassment and usage of organizational assets like email/IM for personal/romantic use should be discouraged. One can have a policy on spouses working in the same team/reporting relationship, but having people declare their relationship status is getting into murky territory. However managers should give objective feedback to employees when work is suffering without getting prescriptive or normative. Because a lot of these relationships between two married (to other people) employees can be about platonic "office spouses". Where does one really draw a line? And should a line be drawn at all?

The other area of concern is the view that one can romance their way to the top. If an organization's performance management system is not objective and transparent then people do being to talk on these lines. How an organization handles these issues shows how mature it is.

As Valentine's Day approaches at work, how do HR professionals engage themselves with the cupid at the workplace?