How to React When You See a Workplace Romance Developing

If you see two employees growing close, how should you react without upsetting people?

People aren't always good at hiding their feelings when they're growing close to a colleague, but all managers need to react appropriately when Cupid's arrow strikes. Personal and professional can quickly become very tangled. If you see two employees are starting to become intimate, you need to take some sort of action and ensure they know where the boundaries lie.

According to research by Forbes, 58% of people have met someone at work and 41% didn't know their company's policy on office romances. Banning an office romance will probably just backfire, because people will become more secretive and they may resent having their private lives dictated to them.

You should always focus on 'behaviour' rather than 'relationships'. Two people can be romantically involved and still be 100% committed to their work, saving the socialising for after office hours. Plenty of couples meet this way, more than through dating sites or friends – trying to curb their behaviour simply won't work.

Instead you need to manage it by setting out some ground rules. Take them both aside and let them know you've seen they're getting close, and if they admit to being together, tell them you're happy for them. At the same time, make it clear what your expectations are. There should be no public displays of affection and no impact on their work duties, and either will be seen as a misdemeanour.

You can't stop office romances, so you have to find ways of handling them instead. Treat people as sensible adults rather than giddy teenagers. As long as their work doesn't suffer, they're entitled to their private lives.


You need to set some boundaries
Banning romance simply won't work
Focus on 'behaviour' over 'relationships'
Set out your expectations
As long as work doesn't suffer, office romances should be permitted