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Dating in the Workplace - A Rather Heated Topic

Law firms across the United Kingdom are divided when it comes down to how they handle relationships in the workplace.

 According to a survey done by Legal Week, over half of the 105 which responded said that they had been in relationships with people at work at some point in their life.

43% strongly felt that there should be policies in place regarding the reporting of relationships to owners/managers, and what I think is quite astonishing is that 7% of people said they believe relationships at work should be banned completely!

 However, 30% felt that if the couple is happy then it is none of their firm’s business and management should only get involved if things go wrong.

 18% felt that organisations should have no say in their lawyers’ personal lives at all, including monitoring their relationships with other employees.

 Which camp would you sit in? (Comment below, I’m keen to hear thoughts on this!)

One of the responding Solicitors said, “Human nature suggests you can’t ban something like this absolutely. Any group of people forced to live or work together in close proximity for long hours will form relationships.”

As it stands today, many leading law firms in the United Kingdom such as the likes of LinklatersClifford Chance and DLA Piper require their employees to tell the HR department when a relationship begins... when it begins can often be up for discussion though, right?

I imagine a few end up going with their tails between their legs after Xmas parties…

Another Solicitor said that they could see the argument from both sides of the coin. They felt that on one side, they had witnessed the breakdown of a relationship between two Partners at a firm they worked for, which they described as “utterly bizarre, intolerable and positively divisive” for the rest of the team.

On the other hand, they confirmed they had met their own wife through work… so they can hardly argue the point against!

 The firms enforcing these rules are going to often be the larger ones, so if things do go wrong, there will be barriers they can put in place between staff who have had an issue…

For firms that are small-medium in size, these relationships can be devastating if a breakdown between two employees occurs. People end up taking sides, and a whole environment can become toxic very quickly, all because of two people!

It only takes one negative person to ruin the atmosphere in a small business and so, if both involved are in a negative space that’s going to be so damaging to the efficiency and happiness of the whole office.

So, you can see it from an employer’s perspective particularly small businesses, but you certainly must expect it to happen, we’re only human right!?

What are your thoughts?

Perhaps you met a partner through work and it worked out or, even better (for the comments section… ????) if it didn’t!

Written by Managing Consultant & Head of the South West of England - Charlie Simpkin.