I’ve noticed that two of my members of staff have started an affair. We’re quite a small team and this has affected the office dynamic quite significantly. I’m beginning to worry that it is affecting their work and professional detachment. What should I do about it?
Workplace relationships are on the rise. Recent research has shown that seven in 10 people had or know someone who has had an office affair.
While the stigma with office relationships seems to be a thing of the past, for the business owner it can potentially open up a legal minefield or result in unproductive work performance, gossip and conflicts of interest.
If the relationship turns sour, the potential legal implications can include sexual harassment or bullying claims.
For other team members, it can be unfair treatment and promotional bias.
Aside from these legal implications, when emotions creep into a small office environment the impact on team morale and productivity can be devastating to the success of the business.
So what can you do about it?
Legally there’s nothing you can do. So to protect your company as much as possible, ensure you have comprehensive internal policies and procedures. You can then address underperformance and professional detachment.
Firstly, you will need to have clauses in your policies manual that cover email communication (business use only), conflict of interest, workplace standards, sexual harassment and bullying.
Secondly, write a performance management document that will allow you to manage the situation professionally, without allowing any emotions to come in to play.
Here are the steps to guide you through the process:
- Ensure the performance measures align with their job objectives.
- Identify the areas requiring future improvement.
- Create a self-assessment document for the employee to complete.
- Establish a plan for the employee to make the improvements.
- Set a timeframe for the new objectives.
- Make a time with the employee to review their performance.
The aim of the review is to give employees an opportunity to understand the acceptable standards of performance and then how they are going to improve their future efficiency and productivity in line with these standards.
Always ensure after the review that the final document is signed and dated by both parties.