Legislating romantic interludes only drives them underground.
And, word-on-the-street says about 50 percent of all relationships begin in the workplace.
Yet, while Larry King, Rush Limbaugh and the Washington Post revel in increased revenues, HR pros know they’re watching a dramatic display of the dangers of office liaisons—threats to worker competence, lowered productivity, demoralized co-workers, secrecy, potential conflict-of-interest, and worst of all, claims of invasion of privacy and sexual-harassment lawsuits.
We may titter, but even with all of the problems, we also know it won’t go away. Predictably, because of the glitz and visibility of recent cases, there’s a rush to prevent similar bad outcomes throughout every level of society.
That’s because the results of an acrimonious ending are far more consequential for the company today than ever before.
The Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas hearings changed gender relations forever because they brought forth sexual harassment as a workplace issue, catapulting common sense rules of decency, courtesy and etiquette into the legal arena.
And many of them occupy visible and powerful positions.
Where people from all walks of life are captivated by the clandestine meetings of the CEO of the most revered workplace in the world.Most recently, a survey called [email protected] (of nearly 7,000 subscribers of America Online in its Business Know-How Forum, February 1998) revealed similar findings.Fully 71 percent of respondents had dated someone at work, and 50 percent of the managers said they dated subordinates. Although workers’ attitudes lean toward acceptance, workplace policy tends to lean the other way.Balancing the individual’s right to privacy with protecting employees from sexual harassment and the company from conflict-of-interest isn’t a situation for which strict policies are called for.It is a situation that calls for careful consideration, communication and common sense guidelines to make the difference.
Here’s one of her earliest letters: DEAR ABBY: We work in a large office.