Q. My co-worker and I fell in love on the job. We both still work at the same employer, although in different departments. We’re being very discreet, so nobody knows, not even our supervisors. Are we doing everything right?
You’re asking, of course, because #MeToo is shining a spotlight on sexual harassment that persists in so many workplaces. Yet consensual office romances happen – according to a survey by Vault.com, some 57 percent of people working have had a personal relationship with a colleague — and that leads to difficult policy-making.
Perhaps by being discreet you are indeed doing everything “right.” Arguably, though, it is difficult to keep a secret like yours in the workplace, and for all you know, speculation about your relationship could be heating up the rumor mill.
Whether your relationship looks lasting or temporary, you might want to check with human resources to understand how your workplace handles personal relationships. For those who feel they are being harassed, there is probably clear language about consequences.
Consensual relationships are a different story: some policies are vague, indicating that co-worker relationships are “discouraged” and leave it at that. Some are more specific with termination a possible consequence, particularly for supervisors who date their subordinates. Others are extreme, attempting to ban office romances regardless of the level or department.
So learn the rules and be transparent with HR. The more informed and educated you are, the more you will be able to minimize the risks your relationship poses to your career and your interactions with your colleagues.
Sherri Sacks is a Career Coach for the JCS Career Center. The JCS Career Center offers comprehensive employment services to help job seekers of all abilities and skill levels find and maintain employment or change their career. Services include career coaching, career assessments, resumes, interview preparation, and connections to employers who are hiring. For more information, call 410-466-9200 or visit jcsbaltimore.org.