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  • What are the pros and cons of office romances
  • What advice would you give your employees?

If you are ready, you don’t have to get ready when crises come. The GMA 3 leadership team wished they had followed that advice. They were not prepared to deal with a zero-to-90 office romance. Now they are in the thick of a very public controversy. The two popular co-hosts are involved in an office romance. At this point, it doesn’t look like the leadership team is sure how to handle the situation. The CEO stated that the company does not have a policy that prohibits these liaisons, however, the canoodlers have been suspended pending an investigation.

The probability of office romances is high. Colleagues spend a lot of time working together. Casual conversations can turn more deeply personal as co-workers become more comfortable with each other. A few lunches together can accelerate a friendly relationship into romance. Ironically the individuals involved are oblivious, but colleagues are talking. Before they know it the co-workers are in too deep and totally miss all the warning signs.

I empathized with the CEO who supervises the GMA 3 co-anchors. Overhearing office gossip, I found out about two couples who were in romantic relationships in my department. What made my examples a bit more complex was the power differential. Coincidentally, in both cases the females were supervisors. With all the other things going on in the department, I hadn’t anticipated office affairs being among them.

The wise learn from other’s mistakes. To be ready for an office romance, develop a policy to protect yourself and the organization’s interests. I have read that productivity can go up when individuals are involved in a loving relationship. However, if they break up, your role as boss becomes more difficult, because communication between them is stilted. As a result, productivity could suffer.

You could draft a policy that prohibits such a relationship or one that is more nuanced. For example, you could require that the individuals involved disclose when the relationship begins and when it ends. If work performance changes address it immediately and note it in performance appraisals. You might add a moral clause to protect your brand. If there is a power differential between the individuals, the person in the higher position should be warned that he or she could be charged with sexual harassment if the relationship sours.

I was fortunate, both of the couples in my department ended up marrying. If I had to do it all over again, the policy would have been in place before the individuals got together. A policy would also force employees to think about the consequences before the relationship becomes amorous. Be ready.

How have or would you handle an office romance?