Earlier this week a request was posted on an HR forum looking for an example of a ‘Love Contract’: a work policy to specify how colleagues should behave if they form a romantic relationship within the workplace. Without knowing the full details, it would appear that this individual was attempting to create a rule book that covered every eventuality, possibly under the false impression this would make things easier in the future. In reality, writing a comprehensive rule book could work against you and undermine your management. Specifically:
- It will take a huge amount of time to write and the task will never end.
- No-one will have the time to read it as they have far more important things to do than consume the mighty tome that has been created.
- If an issue does arise, the existence of a written policy and a set of rules will simply encourage people to argue about the wording and to look for loopholes to exploit: ‘The policy did not specifically state x therefore it does not apply in this situation’. A waste of everyone’s time which could let the individual get away with inappropriate behaviour.
The main problem is that it puts the responsibility for defining correct behaviour on the organisation and not with the individual, where it truly belongs. Writing a rule book will create a parent/child dynamic between management and workers as opposed to a relationship between responsible adults.
Rule books do not solve issues around behaviour, especially when a workforce can actually be ‘policed’ with just two words:
And should a romantic relationship at work fall into inappropriate behaviour, simply bring the individuals in and ask: ‘Is your current behaviour both professional and respectful?’ – then watch them struggle to respond. Job done.