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February 08, 2007
6 Tips for Managing Workplace Relationships

If your company has no formal policy to guide you, then you must rely on your common sense to provide solutions to the problems presented by workplace romances. Here are some suggestions that may help you to arrive at diplomatic solutions that lessen the chance of any sexual harassment charges.

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Be reasonable. Without a specific policy, you cannot ask employees not to date each other. And even if you could, the prohibition would be difficult to enforce. Don't put yourself in the position of making unreasonable demands on your employees--or yourself.

Be fair. It is critical that you treat all employees exactly the same when dealing with issues of workplace relationships. Even marital status should make no difference in the way your address a problem. Consistency is key to guaranteeing fair and equal treatment of a diverse workforce.

Be professional. When you must speak to employees about their behavior, confine your comments to a completely business-related context. Address issues of productivity, performance, and proper workplace conduct. Leave anything personal out of it.

Be discreet. Don't encourage employees to confide personal information. And remember to keep any confidential information that is entrusted to you strictly to yourself.

Be careful. Don't attempt to implement a policy of your own where none exists. There may well be federal, state, or local laws that apply to these situations, and your company must stay in compliance. Consult with company counsel before acting on a difficult or sensitive situation.

Be proactive. Discuss the need for a written policy with upper management and show them how this can prevent both workplace disruption and costly lawsuits. And suggest training for supervisors on the subject.


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