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Work relationship ‘break ups’ are fraught with problems...

Posted on 26/07/17
Work Relationships

According to a recent survey 9 out of 10 employers believe strong work relationships make it easier to retain staff, with employers overwhelmingly agreeing that it’s healthy for employees to have a ‘work spouse’, according to new research released from totaljobs.

Nearly all employers (92%) say strong relationships make people more engaged with their jobs, while 96% say they create a happier workplace.

Work relationship ‘break ups’ are fraught with problems

But 33% of employers’ report that they have had to deal with employee issues after work friendships have gone bad.

After work friendship sours between employees, nearly half of employers say work and productivity was negatively impacted. Over a third say office rumours spread through the company.

Worryingly, a quarter of employers say employees took stress or sick leave because of a breakdown in work friendships, while one in four say employees even ended up resigning.

Work cultures are varied in terms of how colleagues interact and the kinds of relationships they forge. We spend the majority of our lives at work or engaging in extra work curricular activities so it stands to reason that we will have close relationships with our colleagues.

When placing candidates we help to give an overview of an organisation’s cultural view on workplace relationships as well as the general company ethos.

Here are some things for us all to consider if we are in, or thinking about having, a workplace relationship:

Be Aware of Any Legal Obstacles and check the HR Policy

Workplace relationships can be subject to some regulations. The safest option is to ask your HR department if it has a policy in place, and to let your HR advisor know if you are in a workplace relationship.

Different companies in different jurisdictions have different rules, some more draconian than others! 

For example, in the United Arab Emirates, it's illegal to live with a member of the opposite sex if you are not married, and expats need to be aware that this is punishable by imprisonment or deportation. 

In Jersey, our highly regulated legal and financial institutions may have rules about workplace relationships to ensure the organisation isn't exposed to breaches of compliance, conflicts of interest, or inappropriate collusion.

If you're a manager or senior employee, you should think very carefully before dating a more junior person, or before putting yourself in any situation where there may be a real or perceived power imbalance. Whether your interest is welcome or not, you can end up being accused of harassment, and this can have a severe negative impact on your career.

Talk to Your Partner

Chances are, your colleagues and co-workers may know you are in a relationship with someone in the office. 

It’s natural for people to speculate at what may be going on. One party in the relationship may feel under pressure to keep the relationship secret, the other party might adopt a freer approach. Either way you should discuss whether to have some boundaries at work, such as not spending too much time alone together, or agreeing not to use your "pet names" for one another

Stay Professional at Work

Your colleagues appear to be happy for you. However, experts and HR professional believe you still have to tread carefully. Your PDA or ‘Public Display of Affection’ can make your co-workers feel awkward and isolated. 

If you're heading out for lunch with your partner, why not invite a few more people along? Even if they decline your invitation, you have made the offer, and that can go a long way to maintaining team harmony.

If you discuss business matters together – or, worse still, make business decisions – while your co-workers are absent, it will likely cause resentment. If you're managing your partner, you need to be especially mindful of your professional interactions, and be seen to be extra careful to treat your other team members equally and fairly.

Having some sensitivity and empathy about how other people perceive your relationship can go a long way toward keeping everyone onside and avoiding inadvertently excluding anyone.


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