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Monday, February 26, 2018

Guard Your Heart

Before we end February and a month filled with red emblazoned messages of love, one awkward love connection is worth considering. It’s those delicate workplace romances. Yes…of course they happen.

Just before Valentine’s Day, the Chicago Tribune briefed us on the quandary in which this has placed many employers. The article is titled, “#MeToo Revelations Have Made Workplace Romances Complicated for Employers.” One big takeaway from this story was the increased use of “love contracts.”

Love contracts? True. Okay, they have another name: "consensual romance in the workplace" agreements. A number of employers are having newly dating coworkers sign these to assure those in charge that their relationship is truly consensual. Apparently—and logically—most employees laugh at this.

Giving insight on the new dynamic of dating at work is Andrew Challenger, vice president at  Challenger, Gray, & Christmas—an outplacement firm based in Chicago. This company surveyed 150 human resource executives in January. More than 60 percent claimed they had to deal with a “failed or inappropriate relationship at work.” From that group, one-third involved a person leaving the company.

As a result of the #MeToo revelations, companies have become more resolved in training about the risks and dangers of harassment. The Challenger survey indicated a rise of 35% in companies reviewing their current policies. This should be no surprise.

What IS surprising is that some companies forbid their employees to date. As if this will stop true love from budding. And has even provided us five reasons why dating a coworker may be problematic.

  • The obvious would be one we’ve witnessed. When the relationship fails, usually one of parties leaves. And it might be the better of the two employees. That may hurt the individual who liked the job situation and the company.
  • Next was the the possibility that one of the daters (if this did not already exist) gets promoted. Now you have a subordinate issue. However, that could be managed in a larger company by reassignment. 
  • Another reason cited was the employee rumor mill may start up. Unflattering things get said. Feelings get hurt. Work distractions arise.
  • Last of the five: watching the couple together at lunch while perhaps isolating themselves from coworkers. 
  • And, of course, the harassment concerns.

Oddly enough, what was not mentioned among the five is the same challenge that married couples in the same workplace must guard against. When the two parties are speaking privately, is it personal? Or business? Will the couple romantically linked at the office avoid letting personal matters become priority at times?

All that being said, finding your true love at work will always remain a possibility. And a wise employer will not purposely squash that opportunity. In my fictional company, I would have a set of guidelines regarding dating fellow employees. And what to do if things so south.

If you’d like to read real life stories about workplace romance, I’ve provided another link below. Plus a rather humorous statistical look at meeting the love of your live.

How do you tell if you’re really ready for love? Read the love chapter in the Bible—First Corinthians 13. If you can commit to love like that, press on. Otherwise, work on the finer points of that passage. Here’s a quick reference:

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (1 Corinthians13:4-7, NLT)

One final test. Buy a box of chocolates. Watch for the person who takes the ones you don’t like. That might be a very good match.

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays from 4-6 PM Central. To listen outside the Chicago area, tune to for live streaming or podcasts, or download the AM1160 app.

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