Let’s talk about something that affects every one of us in the workplace: relationships. We’re not talking about your coffee break chat or watercooler gossip. We’re diving deep into the importance of having a policy for interpersonal relationships at work, especially in the UK. With ITV recently issuing new relationship guidance stating that all personal relationships – romantic or otherwise – should be declared what does your business need to have in place to create a harmonious, safe, and inclusive work environment for everyone? And how do you get the balance right between employees right to a personal life, and ensuring that this doesn’t lead to problems at work?
Things to consider:
Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion
Diversity and inclusion shouldn’t just be a buzzword; and there’s more and more focus on embedding this in workplace culture. Having a clear policy ensures that everyone is treated equally and with respect and minimises the potential for claims for less favourable treatment and discrimination.
Dignity at Work
Nobody should feel uncomfortable, humiliated, or degraded at work. A well-defined interpersonal relationship policy reinforces the importance of maintaining dignity and respect in all interactions. It provides guidelines on how to address and report issues if anyone feels their dignity is compromised, and makes it clear that unwanted and inappropriate behaviours are unacceptable in the workplace.
Harassment, in any form, is unacceptable. UK law is very clear on this, and your workplace policy should be too. If interpersonal relationships end, or are going through challenges, or an individuals is pursuing a relationship that is unwanted it can be difficult to avoid it impacting the work place. Your policy should define what constitutes harassment and outline the procedures for reporting it. It also should ensure that those who report harassment are protected from retaliation, regardless of any relationship – past or present.
Emails, chats, and work phones are part of our daily work life, and it’s easy for people to blur the lines between personal and professional when using these platforms. Your workplace policy should emphasise using these channels responsibly. That doesn’t mean no ‘chat’ but should be clear that messages should not be inappropriate or offensive. Remember, written words can leave a lasting digital footprint.
Perceived Power Balance
Relationships between managers and subordinates need special attention. It’s vital to avoid any favouritism or misuse of power, real or perceived. A good policy should provide guidelines on these relationships, such as disclosure requirements and how this type of situation can be mitigated.
So, why does all of this matter?
A Harmonious Workplace
Having a clear policy helps to maintain harmony in the workplace. When everyone knows the rules, they’re more likely to follow them, creating a positive atmosphere for all.
Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Remember, an employer has the responsibility to take all reasonable steps to prevent discrimination. Having a well written and clearly communicated policy makes it clear that this is taken seriously and that all employees are aware of what is considered appropriate – and inappropriate.
When relationships in the workplace are healthy, employees feel valued and secure. This boosts their morale, job satisfaction, and productivity.
Embracing diversity and inclusion isn’t just about ticking boxes. It’s about creating an environment where everyone feels welcome and respected.
A clear policy on interpersonal relationships in the workplace is becoming more and more relevant. It’s not just a set of rules; it’s a reflection of your values and commitment to making the workplace a better place for everyone.
So, if you need any assistance, whether that’s support dealing with existing interpersonal issues, or with creating and implementing a policy that works for your business, call us today on 0330 0881857. Together, we can create a workplace culture that’s truly inclusive and respectful.
Blog written by Alice McEvoy, HR Business Partner at Optimal HR Services
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