A blog providing trustworthy Human Resources advice to business owners, managers and employees plus the occasional LOL true story from the workplace.
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How To Handle Office Romances
With many of us spending more and more time at the office, it’s no surprise that many working relationships blossom into something a little more intimate. In fact, research carried out by CareerBuilder.com found that 38% of workers have dated a colleague at some point in their working lives.
As an employer though, you’d be right to be a little cautious about what the implications could be for your business. If you suspect that there’s an office romance, you may be concerned about the impact that this could have on your team or what might happen if things turn sour.
Spring is in the air, so now is a great time to consider what some of the best practice is on this subject. Without any further ado, here’s what you need to know:
Accept that these things happen
It would be unreasonable to try to implement any kind of policy that banned romantic relationships between employees. Also, it probably wouldn’t act as a deterrent. If anything, you’d be simply creating a culture of secrecy and mistrust.
The bottom line here is that these things happen and, as a leader, you have to accept it.
Nip any problems in the bud ASAP
Public displays of affection aren’t appropriate in the workplace. No one wants to see PDA by the water cooler, or have to navigate their way through a kissing couple just to get to the break-room. Luckily, most couples will know this already, and will often do everything they can to make sure that there are no awkward moments for their colleagues.
If you do feel that boundaries are being crossed, you need to take action as soon as possible. Have a discreet word with both individuals, explain your worries, and remind them of what’s acceptable and what isn’t.
Consider the team as a whole
You’re probably not in the office all day long, every day of the week. So in many ways, you only get a very limited snapshot of what’s going on and how everyone’s interacting on a day-to-day basis. This means that you need to be extra vigilant when it comes to monitoring sentiment.
Of course, this is a larger issue surrounding workplace culture and it covers more than just office romances. Keeping your finger on the pulse and collecting meaningful, insightful feedback from your staff on a regular basis will ensure that you’re creating a productive, motivated, and happy workforce – if, of course, you’re taking action on your findings.
Don’t take sides if things go wrong
Many employers worry about the potential fallout of office relationships turning sour. It’s essential that you’re prepared for the worst-case scenario. Stay impartial, try to exercise a degree of understanding and sympathy, but make sure that you keep overall business objectives and priorities in sight.
Of course, it’s vital that you can recognize the difference between a break-up and something more sinister. Your policies and procedures on serious matters such as sexual harassment and bullying should be tough and always implemented.
If you’ve got these key areas covered, romance at work doesn’t have to leave you feeling stressed out and uncertain about what to do for the best. If you feel like you need to ensure that you’re prepared for anything that your business might throw at you this year, we can help to make sure that you’re ready. Give us a call to arrange a consultation.
Dealing With A Debbie Downer In The Workplace
If you’re the skeptical type, it wouldn’t be too difficult to find a whole host of reasons to feel negative right now. The future of the country is up in the air, the summer so far has been a bit of a washout and the papers are full of tales of unrest and uncertainty.
In the workplace, negativity can spread like wildfire. So how exactly should you approach the situation if you have one employee who’s bringing down the rest of your workforce? Here, we share practical hints and considerations.
Sometimes, people simply need a sounding board for their frustrations and concerns. Burying your head in the sand and hoping that things will fix themselves is very rarely a sensible strategy. Instead of just paying lip service to the concept of having an open door policy, make sure that you live by it.
Get to know your staff. Work out what makes them tick. Unearth the real issues that are at play. This is what makes the difference between a manager and a leader.
Challenge negative thinking
There are external things going on that you and your business can have no control over. No one’s expecting you to solve all the problems in the world. However, if comments are being made about internal issues, you need to tackle them.
If they’re true, take the time to explain the reasoning behind why things are the way they are, and how employees can play a part in improving the situation. If false statements are being shared, speak up immediately and set the record straight. Sometimes, a bit of strong leadership is what’s needed to get things back on the right track.
Recognize the difference between a bit of negativity and serious mental health problems
Most of us are guilty of letting negative feelings take over now and again. Some might say that it’s all part of living in the modern world. However, as a leader, you have a responsibility to know the difference between this and mental health issues among your employees.
If you suspect that there are more serious problems at play, you have a responsibility to ensure that your staff are supported and given the professional assistance that they might need. In this situation, your first port of call should be to speak with an expert. Remember that discretion is key, and you absolutely must honor the confidentiality of your employees.
The feeling and mood in many workplaces go through peaks and valleys. It’s your job to make sure that your staff are motivated and productive. If you’re experiencing problems, it may be worthwhile to have a chat with us about your challenges. Get in touch today and we can book a call at a time that suits you.
By now, most everyone is familiar with the MeToo movement.Do you think you may have been sexually harassed?Here’s the official definition that may help determine the answer:
*Sexual harassment. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the courts define "sexual harassment" as unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature that:
Sexual harassment can be:
Just as there are many companies that have and enforce good Sexual Harassment Policies, there are just as many companies who have poor policies or no policies at all, and enforce nothing.
Regardless of which company you work for, if something happens, you MUST tell someone.But who?Preferably your direct manager and/or Human Resources.But what if your direct manager is the person who harassed you or you don’t have an HR Department?Then go to the next level manager.
I’ve heard all the reasons why people don’t want to report questionable behavior which focus primarily around fear of losing your job or not wanting to “get someone in trouble”. Do not listen to that little devil on your shoulder.Listen to the other shoulder that is saying you have a right to work in a place that is respectful and where you feel safe and free of any type of harassment.No job is worth being harassed.There are other jobs out there.
At the very least, tell a co-worker who you know is supportive and ask them to go with you when you tell.
Why should you tell?Because you don’t want the individual to harass others.Because as I said above, you have a right to work in a place that is free of harassment (it’s the law!). Because it gives you credibility.Credibility is huge.Were there any witnesses to the event?HR will want these names and they will interview these people.If they corroborate your story, there you go, you have instant credibility.Even if there were not any witnesses, but you told someone, and they confirm that you told them – you still gain credibility.That somewhat lessens the problem of “he said, she said”.
If you wait a year, or longer, HR will ask you why you didn’t tell anyone…. Is there some reason you’re bringing this up now and didn’t then?In other words, are you trying to “get back” at the person for some reason?Or perhaps the relationship was consensual to begin with, but now the person broke up with you or is treating you poorly and you’re out for retaliation.As you can see, things get complicated quickly.But if you’re innocent and are telling the truth, you MUST tell.DO NOT lie, do not make things up – this just ruins it for the true innocent victims in the workplace and you will get caught in your lies.
Not sure if you’ve been harassed?Don’t have HR to tell?Contact us and we’ll help you walk through the options.
Did someone entrust a secret with you?Are you the person that the victim of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior had the courage to tell but then said – “please don’t tell anyone; I don’t want to get anyone into trouble”. Are you the friend, the co-worker, the manager?
Did you promise not to tell?And now you’re wondering if you should?Or maybe it is now 20 years later and you’re kicking yourself because you didn’t?
As an HR professional, one of the things we learn early on is to never promise not to tell.We have a responsibility to tell, an obligation to inform management that an allegation was made and investigation is being completed.Why?Protect the company from legal risk; ensure a safe work place for all employees; individual managers can be sued as individuals; be proactive; uncover the truth; ensure the person who made the allegation is heard and taken seriously.Why? Because we, of all people, need to do the right thing.
But you’re just a friend or a co-worker?Or maybe you’re a manager but you’re not the individual’s manager?Managers, just like HR, have the same obligation and responsibility to tell – even if you are not the direct manager.You are still an agent/representative of the company.You are a friend of co-worker?Many companies have an HR Policy that requires you to bring forth any inappropriate information you become aware of as well and to cooperate with any investigation.
The victim may be subconsciously asking for you to “help be their voice”. They want someone in authority to know, but they don’t have the courage to go it alone.So help be their voice.Go with them to HR and support them as they tell their story.You’re concerned about your own job?Really?Set aside your selfishness and have compassion on the person who may have gone through the most horrible experience of their life.If you lose your job over helping them speak, then I don’t know that the place you were working, is worth having you anyway.Of course, you’ll want to be completely confident that the person is telling the truth.
Is the #MeToo culture we live in today really changing things from the “don’t tell anyone” culture from earlier years?I hope so.But I’m also familiar enough with this topic to know that there are numerous people out there who have not yet shared their story, not yet told anyone.I hope they are getting the courage to come forward and tell.And those of you who don’t have a story, don’t make one up, don’t lie.
In summary - You promised not to tell.First of all, don’t promise.If you did, then go back to the individual and explain that you have a responsibility to tell.You will go with them if they want to tell the story.But you must tell, even if they don’t.
Give us a call today for an informal chat about your circumstances. If
we are unable to meet all of your HR needs, we will direct you to an HR professional who can.
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