Dating in the workplace has increasingly become more popular within recent years. Let’s face it; most of you spend so much time in close proximity with your co worker, that in many cases it is inevitable that a workplace romance can start to brew. However, although the aroma can be very enticing at first, like coffee, it is no good once it has gotten cold. The uncertainties of new romances are in and of itself a lot to deal with. The added pressures of having these uncertainties play out in front of other co workers, peers, subordinates, and senior leadership is a risk that most often doesn’t prove to be worth taking. Be careful not to find your HONEY where you make your MONEY.
When I was younger and working entry level jobs, I entertained workplace romances a time or two. It was cute to be able to see my boyfriend at work and coyly flirt with him on company time, because my focus then was just working my scheduled hours and getting a paycheck. When I became a woman and started plotting out the path of my career, I realized that I had to set some standards in order to stay focused and achieve the goals that I have set for myself. I decided early on that I would not date anyone at work because I needed to be careful about how I was perceived in the workplace. (I know that I cannot control how people perceive me, but I can control whether or not the perception is the truth or a lie).
WHAT IS AT STAKE
Dating in the workplace means that you have now allowed your past, your vulnerabilities, your comments made about coworkers, your secrets, and your indiscretions, access to clock in with you everyday when you arrive to work because now you have shared all of these things with the very person that you have to spend eight hours per day, 40 hours per week, and 52 weeks per year with. I have worked in my chosen career field for many, many years within government in North and South Carolina. I have been afforded the opportunity of working with some men who were well educated, had a thriving career, and just plain gorgeous. I have even been asked out a time or two but again, although it was very tempting to accept the invitation, I had to uphold my standards and remain focused on my professional career goals.
I'VE SEEN IT ALL
As a Human Resources Manager, I have seen many promising careers fail alongside a failing workplace romance that went “viral” in the workplace. For the most part, even if all of the details were not aired out, employees still knew that the couple was no longer together and the work environment became very tense. If you are seeking growth in your current position, then a workplace romance can be viewed as poor judgment by leadership (especially if you are in a senior level position) and potentially impact your growth opportunities within the organization. Especially if you are in a supervisory position, it is inappropriate to date a subordinate employee and could also violate sexual harassment policies.
Before dating a man at your workplace, ask yourself the following questions:
1). If things do not work out, am I able to make a clean break and continue my professional life as normal?
In many cases, when a relationship falls apart, you truly don’t know how it will affect you or the other person. Think back on some of the difficult break- ups that you have experienced in previous relationships. Now imagine that break- up played out in the workplace. Could you be as productive as you once were now that your co-workers know all the details? Would you be able to focus as much as you once had? Do you think you would still have the same respect in the workplace as you once did? If you have never had a difficult break- up that is wonderful, but please don’t allow a workplace break up to be the first. Remember, just as you wouldn’t bring your personal laundry to work with you, don’t put your self in a position where your personal laundry could be aired at work for you.
2). What are my employers’ views on the matter and am I potentially violating any policies?
Always become familiar with your employer’s sexual harassment or workplace harassment policy. Relationships, in some cases even if consensual, can be interpreted as sexual or workplace harassment. If your employer doesn’t have a harassment policy, use your best judgment and keep personal business separate from work business.
3). Would this relationship cause me to compromise or lose the respect of my peers?
Dating in the workplace could often times put you in very compromising positions especially if you are in a position of authority or leadership. Peers and subordinates are watching you and the relationship and it can appear that you are compromising judgment or other things to maintain this relationship. If you are subsequently promoted, will this impact the relationship? If you are privy to confidential information that adversely affects your partner, how can you handle it objectively? It may appear at first that no one will ever find out about the relationship; however, that is only until the truth is exposed.
I am not saying that all workplace relationships turn bad and although some workplace romances lead to long term relationships, you have to be able to assume the risk and consequences of what happens if by chance it doesn’t work out well. Your workplace should be reserved for just that…WORK! Make your MONEY there and find your HONEY elsewhere.