The dating or fraternization policy adopted by an organization reflects the culture of the organization. Employee oriented, forward thinking workplaces recognize that one of the places that employees meet their eventual spouse or partner is at work. Workplace friendships flow naturally into personal lives. Families become friends through their work connection.
These relationships make sense because the commonalties that coworkers share such as proximity, shared interests, age, children, and similar incomes, encourage friendships. These friendships and romances affect the workplace positively adding to the sense of teamwork and camaraderie. Yes, relationships can also go awry and result in friction and conflict at work.
As with any policy, the policy should be for the good of the working relationships in a whole group of employees, not put in place to control the behavior of a few employees. Consequently, fraternization policies that prohibit friendships and association outside of the workplace cause employees to deceive and cover up. They also encourage gossip, dissatisfaction, drama, and gaming.
An employer of choice does not place employees in untenable positions. For example, a recent poster on the HR forum worried that she could no longer participate in friendships that she had developed over several years if she accepted a promotion. Her company had a strict fraternization policy that affected managers and supervisors that allowed no relationships outside of the workplace. As a person of integrity who has no intention of dumping her friends, she felt that her only option was to leave the company.
A fraternization policy needs these components. It must prohibit romantic relationships between a manager and a reporting staff member. It must define the behavior that is acceptable and what is not acceptable. The policy must supply the potential consequences of breaking the policy. It must provide courses of action that leave an employee with opportunities to understand and follow the policy.
Dating or Fraternization Policy
Company employees may date, develop friendships and relationships both inside and outside of the workplace as long as the relationships do not negatively impact work. Any relationship that interferes with the company culture of teamwork, the harmonious work environment or the productivity of employees will be addressed by applying the progressive discipline policy. Adverse workplace behavior or behavior that affects the workplace that arises because of personal relationships will not be tolerated.
The exception to this policy relates to managers and supervisors. Anyone employed in a managerial or supervisory role needs to heed the fact that personal relationships with employees who report to him or her may be perceived as favoritism, misuse of authority, or potentially, sexual harassment. Even if no improper conduct occurs, the relationship may cause gossip, hard feelings, dissatisfaction, and distraction among other employees in the workplace. The relationship may appear to other employees as an inappropriate use of position power. Additionally, any fraternization with any employee who reports to the manager or whose terms and conditions of employment such as pay raises, promotions, and advancement are potentially affected by the manager, is prohibited. The fraternization that is prohibited by this policy includes dating, romantic involvement, and sexual relations; close friendships are discouraged in any reporting relationship.
A manager or supervisor who dates or becomes romantically involved with an employee creates a serious problem for the company. Dating an employee, even when the employee is not in a reporting relationship, and extramarital affairs, create serious consequences for the company. They adversely affect the careers of both employees with regard to advancement opportunities, choices of jobs, and assignments. They adversely affect the company's flexibility and consequently may have an impact on our service to customers. These relationships can result in charges of sexual harassment, even years later.
If a manager decides to pursue a close relationship with an employee, he or she needs to inform their manager and Human Resources immediately. The company will then decide what, if any, actions are necessary to take in regard to assignments and jobs. Under no circumstances may a manager date, become romantically involved with, or have sexual relations with a reporting employee. Employees who disregard this policy will be disciplined up to and including employment termination.
Your Company recognizes that employees have different definitions and understandings about what constitutes a close relationship, a friendship, or romantic involvement. Consequently, if you have questions or need further clarification, talk with your Human Resources department. Their goal of implementing policies consistently and fairly will help inform your choices.
Your Company encourages employees to develop friendships and share a spirit of teamwork and camaraderie both in the workplace and outside of work. In instituting this dating or fraternization policy, it is not your company's goal to interfere with the development of coworker friendships and relationships. The policy identifies when these relationships are appropriate and when they are not.
The policy also dictates the actions employees need to take if a coworker relationship is deemed inappropriate from the Company's standpoint. The policy tells employees the potential consequences if the policy is violated.