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As an employer, should you be cautious about staff members having a personal relationship with each other? 
What do I mean by ‘personal relationships?’ 
Intimate relationship between colleagues 
Close friendships 
We all spend a lot of time at work and therefore relationships build between employees, even if there was not one before. 
It is important that as a business, you look at it objectively as employees have a right to a private life. 
There are both benefits and challenges to staff having personal relationships with each other and it is not always as disruptive as you may think. 

What are the benefits of personal relationships? 

➡️ Loyalty  
If staff members have a personal relationship with each other, they will be invested in making it work. It is likely that they will enjoy working together and will not want anything to stop that happening. Therefore, they will be committed to making your business a success and potentially be very productive. 
Staff recommendations are often the most successful when it comes to hiring new team members. Some companies have a ‘refer a friend’ incentive because they know that if it comes from a staff member, the candidate is likely to already be invested in working for you. They know more about your company than anyone answering an advert and are ready and willing to join your business. 
➡️Open doors  
When friends, family members and partners work together, it is inevitable that they will talk to each other about the business with ease. This means that the business knowledge is likely to increase and any challenges they are experiencing could potentially be resolved between them without having to involve management. 

What are the challenges? 

️Inappropriate behaviour  
Personal relationships come with their own challenges. For example, two close friends or family members could have a very public falling out which causes upset within the wider team. You also have the concern of two people breaking up and may have to look at ways to separate them in the workplace. 
➡️Confidentiality breaches 
Whereas one of the benefits was that they can talk at ease, this can also be a challenge especially if one person in the relationship ranks higher in the business. It could be that one person is privy to confidential information and there is a risk that they will share it with the other, opening the risk of that getting out to the wider team. 
️Bullying and harassment  
If a relationship goes wrong, you could find yourself in a situation where a team member is being unfairly treated by another. If there is bad feeling between staff members, it could make it difficult for them to work together without personal feelings coming into it. 

What can you do to manage personal relationships? 

➡️Ask staff to declare if they know each other on a personal level or if relationship blossoms during the course of their time with you. By doing this, you can take appropriate steps to ensure it does not create challenges. 
➡️If someone has recommended a family member, friend or partner to the business, ensure that they are not involved in the recruitment process. 
➡️ Ask team members to sign a confidentiality agreement to ensure they do not discuss business information with anyone who is not privy to that information. 
➡️Consider having the team members involved work on separate teams or under separate managers. Try to keep their personal life as separate from their work life as possible. 

It is unlikely that you will be able to stop personal relationships from happening but what is important is that you inform an HR expert of the situation so they can be aware and ready if something goes wrong.  You do not need to discourage them from happening, but you do need to prepare for any eventualities that may happen. 

Please do not hesitate to contact if you would like to discuss writing a policy. Taking HR from 'TO DO' to 'DONE'. 
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