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Office Romance: A Conflict of Interest?

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  • Office Romance: A Conflict of Interest?

    Everyday we go to work. Professional relationships may bloom in to something more.

    It may not be all bad. More shared experiences together. Possibly more time spent together.

    Yet it may become too much as you get to become so familiar. And this familiarity WILL blur some lines or boundaries at work.

    So, is it conflict of interest to date a co-worker? Is disclosure required? Are personal relationships between employees an HR concern?

    Would you date a co-worker?

  • #2
    Would I date a co-worker? I've actually dated a co-worker before. I didn't feel there was any conflict of interest at that time, his job didn't affect mine and vice versa. We were open about our relationship with the people we worked with and with the management.

    In most of the companies I've worked in, they discouraged office romance simply because of possible conflict of interest. I remembered job applications had a question asking if I'm related to anyone that's currently working in the company I'm applying for. When romance bloomed, one person was usually transferred to a different account/department.

    We cannot stop people from falling in love with each other at work but this shouldn't hinder us from doing our jobs well. Sometimes, when we're romantically involved with someone, we tend to look past their flaws, which may involve mistakes they do at work. We might take their sides during discussions, simply because we're ruled more by our emotions and that fear of hurting or betraying that person than by logic.

    I always wonder if you are romantically involved with someone at work and you find out they're doing something bad, would you report them to management or would you hide it?

    Comment


    • #3
      If it's in the workspace, or the corporate setting, as much as possible, I would go with NO. There is plenty of space to have the lines blurred in between work and relations, and considering that the relationship aspect of one's life, while is the most joyous, also happens to be the most stressful. I mean, the closer they are to your center, the greater the fear of many things can potentially hit. Out of that fear and potential stress eventually comes the impact on work, blurring relationship and professionalism aspects. Of course there are exceptions, though, perhaps, a healthy mature relationship which I admit is kinda rare because the trend for most relationships these days is mindgames and defense mechanisms -- both hints of the sort that will not work in the same work space.

      I think I would be fine with my SO being with me if it's just me and my business, like a shared partnership, but if it includes a team that I don't run, or if I'm just one of the lower ranks, no bueno indeed.

      HR-wise, I think they have functions that assess the said relationship to actually look for signs of strain or potential line crossing. Because people deal with rejection in a variety of ways, and the rejection or potential rejection, micro or macro, from one's partner is inevitable, I think the HR is looking out for the collaterals really. When there's heated drama at work, people that have their own personal stuff won't have energy to deal with choosing sides, gossiping and all that juice.

      Comment


      • Skye
        Skye commented
        Editing a comment
        That blurring of the lines you mentioned is my only fear in office romances. When you are in the relationship, you do not see these blurring of the lines that happen. Because you are the one involved. You are too near the subject to see what is happening in the bigger picture.

        It just came to mind while writing this. The romanticizing of workplace relationships in movies and TV series. It may look like fun and exciting, but is it really in the long run? I really would not know as I have not been in such an involvement.

      • Bjun
        Bjun commented
        Editing a comment
        Skye Office romance is fun and exciting at first, just like any other romance. At the beginning of the relationship, you want to be with that person all the time. When the honeymoon phase is over, you may want a little space, which might be impossible if you see each other at work and go home to the same house everyday. I guess it would work for some people but I can't imagine myself in this type of relationship in the long run, especially in the corporate setting.

        It's definitely different if work means a family business though, the being in a relationship with your business partner would definitely be an advantage.

      • Skye
        Skye commented
        Editing a comment
        Bjun that's the thing. Family business. What if they make work a "family business"? What if they cannot call out each other for mistakes? What if they cover up for each other? Because that's how families are. They protect each other.

        What if their work is affected by their current status - happy couple or on the rocks? What if their relationship negatively affects those around them because of doubts on their professionalism?

        Should management call it out? I wish we have an HR professional here so we can also know their point of view.

    • #4
      I am not against office romance. However, I prefer that those engaged in an office romance are transparent about it. Just as Bjun mentioned, when she had a relationship with her co-worker, they were open about it with their co-workers and the management. This is crucial. Why, as most of you have mentioned, it can have an impact on your work. Others may consider it a conflict of interest.

      I also agree with jcoppi29 that an office relationship can blur the line between work and personal relationships. It is not uncommon that those in a relationship tend to cover-up for each other and turn a blind eye to the mistakes of their partner.

      You can check the article below to get some insights
      The “office romance” has become a confusing, and especially controversial, space to navigate. So how do you navigate it all?

      Comment


      • Bjun
        Bjun commented
        Editing a comment
        There really are a lot of factors to consider when you're romantically involved with someone at work. It's true that turning a blind eye and covering up your partner's mistakes could be an issue but one big drama would be a break-up. I've seen coworkers break-up and it really did affect their work and the people they worked with, as they pulled people to be on their side.

        The article is right. HR needs more training on how to handle office romance. The question is, how would it be handled in a small company that has no HR or any policy about it?

    • #5
      I am also not against office romance. We are just human and it's really hard to control our feelings once we get romantically associated with someone. I've known quite a number of people who have met their life long partners in their workplace. Like what they've said, as long as they are open about it and there is no conflict of interest, I don't think there will be a problem about it.

      Personally, I do think it's a smart move to transfer one of the lovers to a different accounts/department as mentioned by Bjun. There are more things that can be done to avoid problems regarding workplace dating. I believe that these can be easily managed and here are tips that could help the managers handle the people: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/44109813/n.../#.Xye_6fgzagQ

      Comment


      • #6
        I am not against office romance but personally, I wouldn't want to be romantically involved in my workplace. Its just too distracting for me. I like to keep my emotions at home and be all about business when at the workplace. Also, I like having a little space where we (partner and I) can grow on our own in a different setting. Its also a part of the boundaries I'd like to keep where it separates my personal and professional life. And imagine if the relationship didn't work out. Boy, would that be awkward.

        ​​​​

        Comment


        • jcoppi29
          jcoppi29 commented
          Editing a comment
          as a pathological mediator or third wheel, I tell ya, it is very very awkward. It's like, if it doesn't work out, both parties want you to side with them, and there's a high risk of losing friendships on both sides lmao

      • #7
        Statistically, it's well known that people "meet" more often than not through the workplace due to the number of hours most people dedicate to their careers. It's not uncommon for nurses to meet doctors in hospitals and for police officers to meet other police officers especially when each understands the pressures of that particular workplace or when traumatic or high-pressure situations bond people within the same profession. According to Business Insider, 16% of people have met through work

        https://www.businessinsider.com.au/s...16-2?r=US&IR=T

        Comment


        • #8
          I like this article about dating someone from work: 8 surprising truths about dating & relationships at work (https://transparency.kununu.com/surp...ships-at-work/)

          There are great tips for when you’re thinking about (or are already in) a relationship with a coworker. I think tip #2 might be difficult for people in a relationship. It states: Keep your personal relationship and your professional relationship as separate as possible; avoid public displays of affection and when you’re out of the office, try not to have every conversation be about work!

          I've worked with people in a relationship an there is a thin line between your personal and professional relationships. You will almost always have a conversation about work at the dinner table. In a way, it's nice knowing someone understands exactly what you're talking about when you talk about work. But when personal conflicts arise, work might be affected.

          Comment


          • #9
            stan is right..more time spent together can mean more time to get to know each other that often leads to romance. After the novelty however comes hard realities of relationships. Partnerships in business and in life run nearly the same parallels in its cycle and it just so happens work gets in the way of things. I'm one of those outliers who believe that social well-being leads to improved productivity and this is evidenced by the thousands of books on good management, leadership, mentoring, coaching, etc.

            Conflict of interest? Only if accountability lines are potentially impacted. Disclosure? Not necessary if there are no authority lines crossed (same reason colleagues are moved out of the same department). A romantic relationship unannounced is just that..unannounced. In other words, what business is it of the business if romance occurs? none! Until when?..until such a romance disrupts business operations and accountability. I will not spend a minute of company time to even entertain the potentially intrusive conversation on people's romantic relationships! Nope! In the same breath it is my company's best interest and character to NOT tolerate the negative behavior of gossip and rumor-mongering. It is not a crime to fall in (or out) of love people.

            Man is innately good. As a business owner I expect my people to behave ethically -this includes better judgement and fortitude.

            Comment


            • Skye
              Skye commented
              Editing a comment
              When can you say that "such a romance disrupts business operations and accountability?"

              And I agree with you that it is not a crime to fall in and out of love, even in the workplace.

            • Bjun
              Bjun commented
              Editing a comment
              With regard to disclosure, what if your partner applies to the same company you're working in and your jobs may be connected to each other. Do you think employers will factor in your relationship and how it would affect the jobs you'll both be doing? Will that affect the decision to hire the person you're in a relationship with?

          • #10
            Office romance is like the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. It creates a huge mess and does not end well. Maybe if you are in a relationship already and enter or work in the same place that might pass but still it will create unwanted attention or issues. Best option is probably work in the same building but not in the same office. Nothing good come out of an office romance or relationship except gossip, insecurity, and even infidelity issues.

            Comment


            • mjmnl
              mjmnl commented
              Editing a comment
              I beg to disagree with your statement that nothing good comes out from an office romance. Though I am not one to enter a relationship with a co-worker, I know a lot of people who had a successful relationship even though they were colleagues. Affections arise when people spend time with each other and workmates do spend the majority of their day together. I agree though that it may create a huge mess especially if the people involved don't end well and it might affect their productivity. But it is totally the employee's obligation to perform well in their job and personal problems must not be brought in the office. If they cannot be professional in the workplace, better think twice before entering the relationship because it might affect their career bigtime.
              Last edited by mjmnl; 08-07-2020, 07:42 AM.

            • jcoppi29
              jcoppi29 commented
              Editing a comment
              I think it would depend on the personalities of the people involved in the relationship dynamic, like, for example, if they're both very extroverted. Extroverts generally derive energy from crowds, thus, they interact and engage more often than introverted types, and they're also prone to making their personal affairs, including their relationships, everybody's business. Maturity levels as well when it comes to relationships is another area of concern -- if the couple or the partners in the hypothetical scenario deal with rejection like adults -- not like, you know, drag everyone into it, make someone else an outlet, cope with relationship probs by looking for an affair, mind games, guilt trips and all that drama.

              I'd think if there's such a mature and stable relationship, a common workplace wouldn't be affected because introverts keep to themselves and they don't generally open up to acquaintances.

          • #11
            I think jcoppi29 simply wanted to say 'No, its NOT forbidden fruit' and yes to mjmnl ..i too have met and worked with dynamic duos who mind you have brought their relationship issues to the workplace (and out too)!

            Couples, romance, even break ups, can be beneficial in the workplace..again with the not-so-common common sense (of decency).

            To answer Skye on when romance disrupts work operations and accountability, consider line accountability and how a leader should NOT be torn between doing the right thing versus doing what is favorable often-fatalistic choices..and we are not even going into coaching, disciplinary action, and/or performance-improvement And then there are those 'inter-department' (yes, even inter-departmental romance can be disruptive) actions where one is 'expedited because its my hubby up for promotion' while all other requests are held back to 'normal' turn-over.

            Maturity level is as unique as finger-prints..we each have our own and it includes our relationships.

            Wanting to go into workplace relationships? Think Flintstones' best pals Barney and Fred! Yabadabadoo!

            Comment


            • Skye
              Skye commented
              Editing a comment
              I wish I could understand your reference to the Flintstones.

              If inter-department romances are disruptive, what more if your belong in the same department? Given that this results in too much complications, a company should have a policy on these kinds of relationships. It may not be outright banned, at least there should be disclosure, to the proper authorities.

              This way, if the couple are bringing in their issues to work, if there is any hint of impropriety, then it can be managed by the company.

            • Indelible_Mark
              Indelible_Mark commented
              Editing a comment
              Impropriety, indecency, personal issues over professional... have we become so pessimistic of each other that there should be 'policy' in everything we do? Is there really 'conflict' between healthy relationships versus professionalism? Perhaps this 'conflict' is merely a ghost of 'what ifs'...a fear of anticipating irrational behaviors? of the workplace becoming fertile ground for growth? What exactly would policy be like? fire them when they behave like children?

              Here is a nice clip on that Flinstones movie where friendship and family takes a beating over 'workplace advancement' https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KhjBP82Yhw

            • Skye
              Skye commented
              Editing a comment
              Thanks for the YT link.

              I am not that good with words and explaining myself. Here is an article that truly resonates with me https://hbr.org/2019/02/how-to-appro...and-how-not-to.

              My take is to be transparent about the relationship (and the break up), as much as possible, especially to your manager/ direct superior. It may be difficult to come clean, but it will definitely help to clear up all the perceptions and misconceptions about what's going on. People do not need to know what is happening within the relationship. But your colleagues, or at least, your boss, should know what they are dealing with.

          • #12
            It's easy to say that a leader should not be torn between doing the right thing versus doing what is favorable-often fatalistic choices... However, when you are in an office romance, it is easy to be blindsided by your feelings and emotion, especially since you are romantically involved with your workmate. Your decisions may be cloudy without you realizing it because you choose to protect your partner. Since you are in a relationship, your tendency is to protect your partner, without realizing that you are already covering up for his/her mistakes.

            If anything, it's still best not to keep an office romance secret. At least to the higher-ups. This is so the management knows that the relationship is consensual and as Skye has pointed out if there are any instances of impropriety, the management will be able to handle them accordingly.

            Comment

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