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Dating at the workplace may be counter productive

Workplace relationships and interaction have an impact on employee satisfaction and retention. Negative attitudes can lead to isolation and loneliness, which may instigate an employee’s desire to resign. (PHOTO/File)

KAMPALA – Romantic relationships are known to crop up whenever people commonly gather. The workplace is not saved that scenario and such relationships sometimes ruin people’s careers for many reasons.

In many organisations, people involved in romantic relationships keep them under the veil of secrecy, especially if they know such relationships are not tolerable at work.

The Human Resource Policy of your organisation may either consent or bar such relationships. It is always advisable for any employee to go through the policy before engaging in a romantic relationship with a colleague.

The common scenario is for organisations that permit dating at work, to lay terms and conditions for those involved in such affairs. Either they are encouraged to marry or conditioned to open up to the employer about their relationship.

The Human Resource Manager Vertical Wireless Investments Josephine Nankole, says she is against dating at the workplace as it causes inefficiency, “On recruiting an employee, they sign a contract which includes prohibiting them from dating fellow employees, if they are found to be dating, their contract is terminated,” she said.

Before anyone goes into a relationship at a workplace they must first evaluate the good and bad that comes with such a state of affairs.

As Ms Dorothy Tanahill Moran a career expert puts it; “Being in a relationship where someone knows the demands at work and how they can likely impact time and availability is vital for any kind of relationship growth. People inherently understand and are attracted to others who understand that part of their life.”

Gregg Ward also a workplace consultants says, “there are a lot of “creeps” in both women and men out there in the world: dating and falling for someone you work with is a lot easier/safer than trying to meet someone in clubs.”

There is evidence that dating workmates could lead into marriage more than relationships started in different ways for example high profile couples who met at the job include Barak and Michelle, Nill and Melinda Gates, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie among others.

Mr and Mrs Musoke (not real names) have been married for seven years now with 10 years of working together in a bank they chose not to reveal.

The couple say they began doing things outside work as friends until they later became best friends as everyone at work recognised their relationship as best friends.

“I wasn’t attracted to him in the first place as I took the friendship lightly, I never thought I would date a workmate, but with time, I liked his personality, because we spent almost the whole day together,” Ms Musoke narrated.

“It was not easy for me to convince her since she was already biased about dating a workmate but I finally won her heart and she is now my wife,” Mr Musoke said.

Asked how they have managed to balance work and the relationship, they said they first kept it a secret until they opened up to their boss who supported them but encouraged them to balance the two.

“Many people doubted us and trashed the idea of us dating while working together but we still never gave up on each other, we knew what we wanted and we weren’t ready to look back on the decision we had made,” said Mrs Musoke.

“We keep our personal relationship separate from our professional relationship, we try as much possible to avoid displaying our affection in public and while at home, we hardly discuss work,” he narrated

On the other hand, there are people that do not entertain the idea of dating at the workplace.

Ms Alice Namusobya, a relationship counsellor says dating a co-worker is always a bad idea, arguing that if it is not blatant conflict of interest, one should resist dating co-workers by all means.

“If you are dating the boss or manager, it might result into jealousness among other employees who might think one is more favoured than the rest. This makes the couple a centre of gossip at work” she said.

She added that it becomes hard for one to tolerate other people who may be flirting with their partner.

“If the relationship doesn’t work, it impacts on one’s concentration, productivity and performance since they will have to continue working with the same person,” Ms Namusobya said.

Ms Monica Isabirye has been married for 30 years with her husband with whom they started a motor spare parts shop and the business was successful with both of them working together.

However, last year she decided to separate the business as she claimed she was not comfortable anymore working with her husband.

“I felt like we had to separate our business because there was conflict of interest, I was not free at work and I must admit after we opened the other branch where my husband works now, I feel so liberated,” she said.

Ms Isabirye says she added to her clientele base too.                           “Working with someone with whom you are in a relationship is quite hard and tricky, because you have to constantly balance work and the relationship/family,” said Ms Isabirye.

Ms Namusobya says there are people that use the chance of being employed to engage in what she terms as “dirty relationships at work.”

“You find that the young ladies are dating men who in many cases are married or vice versa. Such kind of relationships may lead to sexual harassment and that is why I highly condemn dating in a workplace,” she explains.

Ms Namusobya further tipped those engaging in romantic relationships to always prepare for the worst because as any other relationship, it might end in a break-up.

“They need to talk and discuss with their partner how they will continue with their professional work should their relationship end,” she advised.

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