In the wake of #MeToo, relationships with co-workers have become even riskier

Many companies may not ban it, but workers still have plenty of reason to avoid an office romance like the plague. The employer, not the parties involve, may be involved in ending it.
The pressure is increasing on office romances. On Monday, Financial News reported that Barclays   has said all employees at the financial services firm must disclosed office romances. Its new code of conduct says “required to inform their line manager or other appropriate point of contact of changes to personal relationships which may be relevant to their role.”
Such relationships don’t always end well. One in three romantic office relationships will end in at least one person being fired, according to a survey of 150 human resources executives conducted by hiring firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas. Things aren’t necessarily better for those who don’t get fired. The survey found that 17% of employers chose to move at least on employee to a different department, and 5% of these affairs led to litigation.
“Real-life office romances are nowhere near as straightforward as they are portrayed on TV,” Andrew Challenger, vice president of Challenger, Gray and Christmas, said in the report. “ Unequal power, unclear boundaries, bad breakups, and office politics all have potentially career-ending and life-altering consequences for employees.”
Nevertheless, one in four workers say they’ve engaged (or are currently in) a relationship with a colleague, per the Society for Human Resource Management. But in the #MeToo era, office relationships can present a big risk to employers, and nearly two-thirds of the HR executives polled said their departments had to handle the fallout from a failed or inappropriate workplace romance.
Do Sexual Harassment Training Videos Work?
Do Sexual Harassment Training Videos Work?
“In the aftermath of the #MeToo movement, one task that falls to HR now more than ever is making sure that workplace relationships are safe and do not impact the overall culture of the office,” Challenger said.
Roughly 60% of employers had some sort of formal policy regarding romantic relationships in the office, while another 10% of companies said they informed employees that affairs were frowned upon in the absence of a written set of guidelines. Among the companies that did have a written policy, 70% banned relationships between managers and subordinates, while a nearly half (47%) discouraged them. Another third of companies said they handle office relationships on a case by case basis.
Employees who do take the plunge and enter into a relationship with a co-worker should be aware of their company’s policies, particularly if the organization requires that they disclose their relationship. Coming forward doesn’t mean that the couple should act without discretion, though.
Still, despite the concerns raised by the #MeToo movement, almost two-thirds of those polled said they were comfortable with their current sexual harassment policy and didn’t re-evaluate it. And among those who did review their policy, only 25% decided to update it.
Policies like these aren’t the only things changing in the wake of the #MeToo movement. Last winter, many companies chose to scale back their year-end holiday parties in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations.