Coworkers in The Workplace

To date or not to date in the workplace? A hot topic for some companies. It’s gotten enough attention that there was a Grey’s Anatomy episode where all the doctors and nurses were asked to complete a ‘Love Contract.’ Ironically enough, about 3 weeks before that episode aired, there was an article from a legal circular about companies using ‘Love Contracts’. The purpose of a ‘Love Contract‘ is to ask employees who are dating or have dated other employees to sign the contract acknowledging the relationship(s). By doing this, the company would be limiting its liability for any harassment claims that may result if the relationship happened to take a turn for the worse. Also, any disputes arising out the relationship would be held elsewhere and not at the place of work or the employee(s) could be reprimanded. Basically, employees are being asked to behave maturely throughout and/or after the relationship (what, some of us don’t behave maturely when a relationship ends?!?).

Well, should coworkers date? I think it’s fair to say that you work with your coworkers on a daily basis for more than 40 hours a week on average, and in some cases, you’re working very closely with these coworkers. Regardless of the setting, be it the office, hospitals, restaurants, or retail, we all have coworkers that we see regularly. With that being said, it’s understandable and inevitable that some coworkers are going to date, fall in love and marry other coworkers. At the same time, some coworkers are going to date, fall in love, and fall out of love or end relationships with other coworkers; the latter being more of a concern for companies, and one of the reasons the concept of a ‘Love Contract’ was developed.

So, if you are one who is contemplating taking the plunge, there are some things to consider before diving in completely.

Know your company’s policy.

Some companies don’t allow it. As mentioned previously, it’s inevitable that it will happen, so just understand the consequences. What is outlined as discipline in the policy if it’s broken? It’s up to you to decide if the risk is worth it or not, especially if it could mean you’d lose your job. However, many companies allow it (and should) with certain criteria. For example, as long as the employee or contractor is not in the same chain of command or department with the other they’re dating, then it’s ok. If they are within the same chain of command, then the company will attempt to separate them into different departments if possible. If there’s not another position for one of them, then one might be terminated. Again, you decide if it’s worth the risk.

What if it doesn’t work out?

You had the romance, what you thought was love, and you got married and lived happily ever after. But for some, the honeymoon ended. Now what? I’m not trying to be pessimistic here, but it does happen, and we’re simply saying be aware of it. Could you still handle working with the individual? Well, if you wanted to keep your job, you’d have to, or you’d need to decide what’s best for you to move on. We all know falling out of love is difficult, so use good judgment and get help if you need to get through it.

Business is Business.

Business is business. Personal is Personal. Well, that’s easier said than done, but it’s important to remember that you need to try to keep any issues and concerns from your personal life with each other out of the way of those at work. If you work in a place where everyone knows everyone else’s business, well, enough said! It could make your life even harder if others, beyond close, trustworthy friends, know your ‘personal’ business. Be as professional as possible at work with each other.