Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: Keeping Office Romance Outside

It’s been 6 months since the “Me Too” movement got started, and it’s still quite difficult to pick up a newspaper and not find one or two sections highlighting cases of sexual harassment in the workplace.

These days, sexual harassment is no longer a problem just for women. Harassment issues tends to rear its ugly head in most aspects of business and society.

Some of the steps being taken by business managers and employees towards remedying the issue include:

Keeping romance outside of the office to help avoid sexual harassment in the workplace.

Friendships and romantic relationships in the workplace often occur because of the common interests that employees share, such as age, salaries, children, and various aspects of work. These factors are further compounded by the close proximity that employees work in and the social events that occur.

It’s not overly uncommon for both men and women to pursue each other romantically in the workplace. In most offices, you’ll find people who are dating, involved in sexual relationships or even married couples. Trouble is, some workplace relationships can lead to cases of workplace sexual harassment. And, with the current “Me Too” climate still in effect, it has become imperative that we watch how we behave towards each other. If we hope to avoid future workplace sexual harassment issues, improvements should be ongoing.

It’s important to realize that we all have different personalities.Approaching colleagues in romantic or sexual way, may not be well-received, even if you think they share the same feelings. This is why many HR experts recommend that you create policies to keep romance outside the office. Or at a minimum, make it mandatory to inform Human Resources if a relationship develops with a co-worker. By doing so, you will be able to avoid issues of sexual harassment in the workplace that may negatively impact your employees’ well being, as well as the goals of your company.

Consider Creating a “No Fraternization Policy”

No one can deny that some office relationships actually bring a certain level of positivity to an office. However, whenever these kinds of romantic relationships turn sour, the effects can be quite devastating. We are all human, and when it comes to relationships, many of us are prone to jealousy, anger, or irrationality. Broken friendships, failed marriages and unwanted sexual advances can result in tension and poor performance. And, sometime these circumstances can be the cause of workplace sexual harassment. For this reason, HR professionals should discourage relationships between co-workers in a written “no fraternization policy”.

One of the main goals of a No Fraternization Policy is to help reduce sexual harassment in the workplace by minimizing the potential for romantic office relationships. Although this policy won’t stop all relationships for forming, it can certainly help mitigate some workplace sexual harassment problems before they arise.

Ideally the policy is meant to deal with individuals who do not respect the parameters that regulate the issues of sexual harassment in the workplace, not those who simply want to form positive and beneficial bonds of friendships with their colleagues.

And, like with any other policy meant to address the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace, it is important your No Fraternization Guidelines appear to be in the best interest of the staff and the organization as a whole.

If you need help with a sexual harassment issue, or want to create a No Fraternization Policy and don’t know where to start, The HR Source can help. Simply contact us to get started.

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