Managing Romancing Employees

Vol. 14 No. 6

heads eletter Vol.14 No.6 romance

In this, the most romantic of months, love is in the air for student sweethearts—and maybe in your administrative ranks, as well. When people spend most of their waking hours together, it’s natural for crushes to form for admirable, available peers, regardless if your school’s policies frown on it or not. If you find that love is swamping your school’s halls and offices, here are some ways in which to keep everyone’s “head in the game”—instead of Cupid’s clouds.

  • Remind administrators and faculty of the pitfalls of office relationships, which include the perpetual inability to “retreat” from work stress—since romantic partners work together—and the fallout from breakups.
  • Consider your school’s sexual harassment policies, and how they differ from and interact with your policies on employee relationships. Consult your school’s legal counsel to guarantee that employees are safe from unwelcome advances while treating courting couples with professional respect and dignity—even if that means that the school ultimately discourages coworkers dating each other.
  • Enforce a school policy that relationships cannot form between managers and subordinates. It’s too easy for nepotism to form, or for an employee’s accomplishments to be dismissed as unduly influenced by a managing love interest. Should something of the sort occur, separate the pair as soon as possible.
  • If your school chooses to permit dating between employees, counsel romancing couple as soon as you become aware of the situation, to support them professionally and suggest ways in which they can retain their professionalism. Management expert Alison Green offers the following tips to ensure work couples retain their professional reputations:
    • Public displays of affection should not occur during the school day, nor at work-related events.
    • Don’t close the door of the office if the pair is alone together in the room—not because the school doesn’t trust them, but just to head rumors off at the pass.
    • Avoid sitting together at meetings, so each employee can continue to be seen as autonomous professional units.
    • Ensure that whatever personal fights arise do not enter the school doors.
  • Remember to manage employees—both administrators and faculty—on the basis of their own accomplishments and areas for improvement, and not that of their partners’.

Additional ISM resources:
The Source for Risk Managers Vol. 5 No. 8 Sexual Misconduct on Campus Part I: Defining Sexual Misconduct
The Source for Risk Managers Vol. 6 No. 1 Sexual Misconduct on Campus Part III: Best Practices, Professional Development and Policy

Additional ISM resources for Gold Consortium members:
I&P Vol. 34 No. 14 Another Way of Looking at Retention

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