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The very important steps managers should take when employees start dating . Careers24

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In recent weeks, two prominent news stories have highlighted workplace romances blowing up into costly public scandals. The tone of the coverage of both cases suggests that sexual relationships between colleagues are an aberration. But the opposite is true: workplaces are where many relationships begin. The gap between this reality and our public attitudes to workplace relationships reflects a high level of anxiety and confusion about the boundary between work and personal matters. The fact is that romance will kindle at work, but there are things employers and employees can and should do to manage these situations.

The majority 9 of out 11 of participants were female and between the age of 28 and Participants' job titles varied between clerk, machinist, ironer, cutter and packer.

Their mother tongue was Afrikaans and their education levels varied between Grade 6 and Grade 11 refer Table 1. The length or duration of the romantic workplace relationships varied. The shortest relationship was at least six months one participantand the longest relationship was 15 years two participants.

Six participants were married to their partner and eight of the participants had one child or more with their partner in question. Nine out of the 11 participants co-habited at some point in the relationship, ranging in duration between a minimum four months and maximum 15 years. The 11 participants included two ex-couples, meaning four of them were involved with each other and the rest were involved with other employees outside the sampling group.

It may be deduced from the information above that the participants' relationship profile therefore fitted the criterion of being in a serious long-term relationship rather than in a short-term affair. Ten of the participants responded that they perceived the break-up as being inimical, with only one participant saying it had been amicable.

Furthermore, of the total of nine relationships, six had broken up because of a third female party, who was also a work colleague. Most of the male parties in the relationships actually proceeded to enter into another workplace relationship after the break-up this needs to be viewed in the context where the workforce of 1 consists mainly of females with only about males.

Presentation of the themes and literature control. An elaboration of the themes that emerged during the study follows below. Psycho-social functioning. The theme of the effects of dissolved WRs on the psychosocial functioning of the employees involved and their co-workers was explored in the interviews with participants.

Emotional problems, such as concentration difficulties, stress and depression, lack of motivation and increased substance abuse, can occur with the dissolution of any romantic relationship. However, as indicated in the literature review, it is different for WR break-ups, in that the participants have to work together after the romance is over.

This continued contact often worsens the emotional impact. Emotional disorders are usually not as visible as physical ailments and could create secondary risks for the organisation, such as increased absenteeism, mistakes or increased health costs.

In this regard participants reported a decrease in their concentration levels, as their attention was more focused on the relationship instead of on their work; they felt easily distracted and struggled to concentrate on their work. Five participants answered that they experienced difficulty with decision-making.

I could not make decisions at work. I remember one incident when I became sick at work because I was too emotional and had to be sent home. Ek kan onthou een 'incident' by die werk, wat ek siek geraak het by die werk en net begin te 'emotional' raak het, dat hulle my moes huis toe gestuur het" [sic]. SA: I could not concentrate on my work. My supervisor recognised this. Die supervisor het opgelet On the other hand, three participants reported that there had been no impact on their concentration levels or decision-making abilities, while two others felt relieved that they could keep busy at work in order to escape from their preoccupation with their feelings about the break-up.

In terms of the negative experience of stress, the research indicated that most participants reported increased levels of stress during the break-up. The "stress" related to different factors, i. It is significant that the majority of the participants felt so stressed that they considered resigning from their jobs.

Also, when it came to sadness, seven participants answered affirmatively to the question as to whether they experienced this feeling during and after the break-up. Seven participants indicated that, for them, the experience was so intense that it bordered on depression, in that some lost interest in their personal hygiene and appearance. Others experienced decreased energy levels or had trouble sleeping. I was very depressed. It felt as if nobody cared about me and that happiness was not meant for me.

That I was meant to be alone. I cried bitterly. Dit het vir my gevoel laat niemand vir my omgee nie. Dat geluk nie vir my beskore is nie Ek het verskriklik baie gehuil. A significant trend, therefore, is the experience of sadness and depression experienced by participants during the break-up, which was reflected in a severely negative impact on their psychosocial functioning.

The same can be said of substance-use during the break-up. Eight participants responded that they had increased their use of substances, which confirms the negative impact of the dissolution of the WR on their psychosocial functioning. For example, L says that, although she used to drink over weekends, she suddenly started to drink during the week as well, as she could not care less about her situation:.

I stopped worrying about what others at work thought of me, they could say what they liked about me at work.

Regarding levels of self-confidence, the research reflects the fact that, during and immediately after the break-up, the participants experienced a blow to their self-confidence. However, looking at the impact over the longer term, 6 participants reported feeling relieved that the relationship was over particularly if it had been unhappywith increased levels of confidence in general.

This finding is demonstrated well by participant L:. I felt very insecure about myself and wondered what was wrong with me. He really crushed my self-esteem.

Is it okay to date a co-worker?

But when we broke up, my life began. En dink ek: Wat is dan fout met my? Hy het regtig my selfvertroue geknak, regtig waar It can therefore be deduced that WR dissolutions can impact negatively on participants' levels of self-esteem in the beginning stages, when emotions run high, but the longer-term impact on psychosocial functioning actually looks positive.

The researcher deliberately asked the question "What was the most difficult experience during the break-up? Some participants answered affirmatively, indicating that it had been particularly hard to see each other every day. Five participants answered that the most difficult experience was the negative effect on the children, as demonstrated, for example, by:.

P: I was sad for my child because now he would grow up without his father. My kind, omrede Nou gaan hy ook groot word sonder sy pa". R: The hardest part was that now I will see my daughter much less often than I would like.

Another main trend emerged as the majority of the participants' relationships six out of the nine sampled had, in fact, broken up because of the intrusion of a third female party, also a work colleague, on site. This had complicated the break-ups to the extent that the participants experienced double the exposure and humiliation, because not only the break-up, but also the establishment of a new WR for the male party occurred in the public domain.

He had another girl at work, and everybody was talking about it because he had made her pregnant. This is significant in the sense that it possibly indicates that the particular work environment of the clothing factory in question is a "hot" environment: it seems to foster the development of romantic relationships at work. Furthermore, most of the employees reside in the same residential communities and often socialise at home. This finding reflects the theory of Mano and Gabrielwho found that the development of WRs depends a lot on the "organisational climate", and that WRs are more likely to emerge in "hot" climates, where work arrangements foster contact outside work and where organisational policies do not punish participants in WR which is also relevant to this specific environment.

Proposing the existence of a "hot climate" in this instance makes further sense, considering the demographic composition of the employees.

The majority 1 of the 1 employees are female, and the majority of them are single or divorced. It would appear, therefore, that for male employees there are ample opportunities for multiple WRs simply by virtue of the sheer availability of females.

A conclusion on the first group of questions concerning the theme "Psychosocial functioning" is neither clear-cut nor consistent.


Different participants had different and unique emotional experiences, and the impact on their functioning varied from time to time and from individual to individual. However, on the whole, and looking at the responses concerning this theme in general, the findings of the literature review are confirmed, in that the general psychological and emotional functioning of individuals involved in WRs is negatively affected.

In general, the break-ups resulted in decreased concentration levels and decreased decision-making abilities, increased stress, sadness and depression levels, and an increased use of substances, as well as, at least immediately after the break-up, decreased self-confidence levels.

In this research study the matter of risks of a social nature was investigated under the theme of social functioning, with indicators of social coping, withdrawal behaviour, the experience of office gossip, conflict with colleagues, and communication with colleagues. Looking at the various responses to the question of how the participants coped socially during and after the break-up, it appears that most of them had some difficulty with this.

A sense of isolation and decreased levels of socialising emerged and was a general experience among the participants. A clear trend emerged from the participants' responses to the question: "Did you feel like withdrawing from your colleagues at work? They also reported withdrawal behaviour at work, for example, avoiding colleagues during breaks. SA: Everyday during lunch times and tea times, I went outside, and then I would come in.

I was on my own. Elke dag so. Op my eie was ek". Office gossip was a common experience for the participants. Two of them reported that they were unaffected by the gossip, while the rest 9experienced it rather negatively.

It created a sense of humiliation, sadness, tension or lack of comfort in the working atmosphere. The participants' perceptions of the workplace were therefore negatively affected by their experience of the gossip, to the extent that they developed a resistance to going to work and needed to withdraw, as described above. Participant P said: It upset me terribly and made me felt uncomfortable.

I felt I did not want to work here any more. Dit het gevoel ek wil nie meer hier werk nie". T felt uncomfortable because: Everyone was talking. They were saying I was mad, crazy. Another trend in the participants' experience was that of increased levels of conflict with their work colleagues. Feelings such as irritability, anger, impatience, quarrelsomeness, rudeness and unfriendliness were reported. All of these feelings are conflict-related and had, or were likely to have, a negative impact on their level of social functioning at work.

In summary, appreciating the different and often conflicting experiences by participants regarding the theme of social functioning, it can be inferred that the break-up of a WR generally had a negative effect. The participants' social coping skills were affected in some way or another, and most of them experienced withdrawal. Office gossip was an enormous issue for them, and increased conflict with work colleagues was reported.

Retaliatory violence. With reference to the theme of retaliatory violence, there is consensus in the literature that disruptive dissolutions of WR have a potentially high risk for an organisation in the sense that the dissolution could result in retaliatory violence on the work premises, affecting the participants' and their co-workers' job performances Lickey et al.

This may get worse when one of the parties feels vindictive, angry or resentful. This research investigated the occurrence of retaliatory violence and the associated negative feelings under the indicators of violent threats, acts or incidents; effects of violent threats or acts; negative emotional experience fear or intimidation ; and experiencing feelings like anger or resentment. The occurrence of violent threats, acts or incidents at work following the break-ups was a definitive theme.

Four female participants shared that they approached their ex-partners at work in an intimidating or verbally violent manner. L: I was the one who approached him to tell him off. When we broke up, I went up to him to swear and shout at him, everyday. Once, I took his phone and wanted to break it, but my friends stopped me.

Toe ons opbreuk Geskel, elke dag Ek wou dit stukkend gooi, maar toe keer my vrinne my ". One said that she physically hit her ex-partner at his machine. J: Yes, I did slap him once, at the machine. Another incident was more serious, when a woman was physically and verbally assaulted by her ex-partner at her work desk.

of Social Work and Criminology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa. and Tudor (): "Dating a fellow worker is the employee's business until it. South Africa's courts have given a clear indication of the seriousness with which they are viewing sexual harassment in the workplace but SA. According to IOL, South African labour law currently has no policy referring to workplace dating but it is up to individual organisations to create.

The participants who had been on the receiving end of such violent threats or acts responded that they usually reacted by avoiding or walking away from their ex-partner. Some 2 felt embarrassed about it, some 2 felt uncomfortable, but the majority 7 struggled with feelings of anger and resentment against their ex-partners. T: I would get angry for no reason, with my supervisor as well.

Ek was sommer net kwaad, sommer vir my supervisor ook". D: When somebody asked me something, I would bite their head off for no reason because I was irritable and misinterpreted everything.

Vat dit mos nou verkeerd op". These negative emotional experiences sometimes resulted in malicious intent towards those around them; for example, participants experienced increased levels of irritability with their colleagues or supervisors. Financial disagreements between ex-partners in particular were one of the primary reasons for this negativity.

In summary: the study indicates that the occurrence of retaliatory violence, with the associated negative feelings of anger, resentment and fear, was commonplace. This confirms the suggestion in the literature review that retaliatory violence counts as a major potential risk to the organisation when WRs dissolve. This finding is significant and points out the irony that the organisation prohibits family members or partners of employees from entering the grounds because it has been identified as a safety risk.

However, there are no policies or measures in place that consider the risks of employee family members or partners who are working together and who pose a similar potential risk to each other's safety. Productivity implications. With reference to the theme of the productivity of the employees involved and their co-workers in the industrial clothing factory in Cape Town, the study indicated mixed results regarding participants' responses as to whether or not the break-up had any impact on their usual level of work functioning.

Half of the participants answered that it had had a negative impact, while the other half answered that it had had no impact whatsoever.

One answered that she actually worked harder to compensate for the lack of trust her colleagues had in her. With regard to the question of how the break-ups affected their attendance, all the participants shared that their attendance had been negatively affected, ranging from being absent for a few days up to a week or more. They usually listed it as "sick leave" and said they took the leave either because of their need to withdraw temporarily from the workplace, or to attend court cases resulting from the break-up.

D: I was frequently absent, I just felt anxious with lots of things running through my mind. Then I just needed to take time off work and be alone at home. En dan moet jy net afvat en alleen wees by die huis ". The last productivity indictor to be investigated was the way in which the participants perceived the level of motivation and commitment to their work.

A main theme was the negative impact of the experience, and they gave examples of how hard it had been for them to continue as normal during that time. D: I did not do my work as I usually did. I just did not want to be there. I could not put in my usual effort and my work wasn't up to scratch. Daar was net nie Gee nie 'capacity' wat ek moet nie. My werk was nie dieselfde gewees nie". Having children to look after was the main reason why participants were motivated to carry on doing their work.

J: Even though I didn't want to go to work, I had no choice because of our child. Weens ons kind". In summary: the research suggests the theme that productivity indicators such as the level of functioning at work, attendance and the level of work motivation and commitment generally suffered.

It is clear that WR break-ups do potentially have a negative effect on productivity. Necessity and best strategies for an EAP. The theme of participants' perceptions about the necessity and best strategies for an EAP in dealing with the effects of dissolved WRs were also explored.

In view of the described risks to the individuals involved, as well as to the organisation as a whole, it is imperative for the company to respond proactively to avoid further escalation and further costs. Besides the more formal company involvement and measures such as a disciplinary recourse, the company could also respond by following the counselling policy that was already in place by offering the EAP service to all the employees.

The study indicates that nine of the participants made use of the EAP service during or after the break-up, most of them self-referred. Their feedback on whether or not their expectations were met by the service was mainly positive, confirming that the EAP gave them the opportunity of talking about their WR, which helped them come to terms with the situation.

S: She listened and that was the most important thing. Looking at their responses under the heading "Communication" in the study, 10 participants reported that communicating openly with their work colleagues, if only just a few trusted friends, their supervisor or the EAP social worker, was experienced as helpful.

Seven participants were unaware of any company policies prohibiting WR, and they felt that, even if they had been aware, it would not have been a deterrent.

Therefore, they did not think this would have been an effective management intervention. L: I don't think there should be such a rule because you can't just stop your feelings for someone. Asking participants to suggest ways of improving the existing EAP to better respond to similar predicaments in future, a common majority point was that the EAP should counsel the parties together to defuse the conflict, to talk about what had happened, to help implement boundaries and to mediate differences peacefully.

The participants who underwent mediating interventions by the EAP gave positive feedback on this and suggested that this should be repeated in similar situations. For example, P suggested that if couples are seen together:. The couple should be called in together to talk to the social worker about their relationship.

It's good to have someone like a social worker at work because there are a lot of troublesome things at home and some of us can't afford to go to someone outside work. This gives one motivation to come to work.

Want daar is baie dinge by die huis en sommige van ons kan dit nie 'afford' om na iemand buite te gaan nie, want ons het nie daai geld nie.

T: She could be helpful because you can be rude to each other when you are in a relationship, she could help you to keep the relationship on the straight and narrow. In summary, it appears that the EAP was seen as a helpful opportunity for affected employees to receive counselling support in coming to terms with a break-up.

The chance to talk about their feelings in a professional and confidential environment was experienced positively. Furthermore, it was clearly suggested by seven of the participants that the EAP could be even more effective if the two parties were seen together by the counsellor in a constructive set-up to address the various issues that emerged during the break-up.

Suggestions for further research. The following suggestions are made for further and future research on the effect of workplace romances on employees and the organisation in general and more specifically on the psychosocial functioning and productivity employees.

These steps would possibly produce even richer information as they may bring about greater neutrality and objectivity, as opposed to the subjective approach of this study. This might shed more light on possible EAP intervention strategies to deal with similar situations in future.

Supplementary research is required regarding the disturbing outcome of this research about the high occurrence of retaliatory violence on work premises and the resulting costs to the company, which has to resort to disciplinary action by applying the workplace violence policy. The company could, for instance, explore the number of disciplinary hearings owing to workplace violence, linking them with retaliatory violence due to WR break-ups.

The company could possibly acknowledge the importance of identifying high-risk individuals early on and refer them to the EAP for mediation.

Certain interpersonal boundaries could be implemented to prevent any future occurrence of workplace violence. This study confirms the overall negative effect of the breakdown of WRs on the psychosocial functioning and productivity of the employees involved in the workplace. Furthermore, it gives direction on how the EAP could best respond to this type of interpersonal conflict situation in the workplace, i.

The researcher's view is that mediation should be recognised and regarded as a primary means of intervention by a company's EAP to respond to WRs that dissolve in order to proactively protect the individuals involved as well as the company at large from the possible escalation of negative outcomes. In view of the insights obtained, the envisaged significance and contribution of this research is its focus on a very specific South African context: an industrial clothing factory in Cape Town during the years This narrowly-defined context, which incorporates the context of South African and "un- or semi-schooled" employees, will go towards making this research contextual, relevant, manageable, focused and significant by addressing the gap in information on this topic, thereby creating new, relevant knowledge.

Research for social workers: an introduction to methods 2 nd ed. London: Routledge. Workplace romance and fraternization policies. Mediation is good for everyone.

Dating in the workplace south africa

New Zealand Management, The practice of social research South African ed. Cape Town: Oxford University Press. Limited future for workplace mediation. Personnel Today, COLE, N. Workplace romance: a justice analysis. Journal of Business Psychology, Close relationships at work: perceptions of the motives and performance of relational participants.

Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 4 2 Romantic relationships at work: perceived changes in job-related behaviors as a function of participant's motive, partner's motive, and gender. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, Close relationships in task environments: Perceptions of relational types, illicitness, and power.

Management Communication Quarterly, Divorce and family mediation models, techniques and applications. New York: The Guildford Press. Responding to workplace romance: a proactive and pragmatic approach.

The Journal of Business Inquiry, 8 1 Workplace responses to employee grief following the dissolution of a romantic relationship. LUNA, C. Mediation solves problems with help of those involved. The Wenatchee Business Journal, A review and analysis of power dynamics in organizational romances. Academy of Management Review, 11 4 Office romance: love, power, and sex in the workplace.

New York: Rawson Associates. MANO, R. Workplace romances in cold and hot organizational climates: the experience of Israel and Taiwan. Human Relations, 59 1 Coming into the light: intimate partner violence and its effects at work. Academy of Management Perspectives, 22 2 Worth fighting for.

The very important steps managers should take when employees start dating of the relationship on the workplace and their co-workers, and be clear for compliance with South African sexual harassment policies and laws. Usually these rules forbid employees to date their boss, but the regulations on office Read: 5 South African employers with the best policies. In recent weeks, two prominent news stories have highlighted workplace romances blowing up into costly public scandals. The romantic.

Community Care, Attraction in organizations: a model of workplace romance. Journal of Organizational Behaviour, 17 1 Employers in the retail industry faces huge losses to theft or industrial espionage and the guilty party or parties are never identified although many are aware of the misconduct, but they are either sharing in the proceeds or are just not prepared to come forward with information to assist the employer in identifying the thieves.

The company conducted a thorough investigation by sending a manager to the store in question, who conducted the investigation himself, which preceded and founded his report. The Commissioner in the arbitration proceedings and as confirmed by the LAC looked at various cases where the question of collective misconduct or sanction was considered. It should be noted therefore that the principle is not that some the innocent must suffer because the employer cannot pin point the guilty.

In this case, all are held responsible for not complying with the rule and not acting in good faith in executing their duties.

Also via the grapevine, I have heard that other employers, for all new employees, are stipulating that the date of payment for remuneration will be the 7TH of. Understanding how the culture of dating in South Africa can do wonders for your to where you might at home at work, through friends and while socialising. to receive the agreed remuneration on the agreed date and time; to receive fair the employer to allege that it therefore had nothing to do with the workplace.

Again, the employees made them guilty of a special misconduct breach of trust and duty of care towards the employer.

Although the principle in question causes problems in light of the principle of fairness in our law, Cameron JA in the Chauke case formulated two lines of justification for a fair dismissal in such circumstances. The first is where an employee, who is part of the group of perpetrators, is under a duty to assist the employer in bringing the guilty to book.

The second is where an employee has or may reasonably be supposed to have information concerning the guilty but fails or refuse to disclose same. His or her failure to come forward with the information may itself amount to misconduct as the relationship between employer and employee is in its essentials one of trust and confidence, and, even at common law, conduct clearly inconsistent with that essential warranted termination of employment.

The LAC found failure to assist an employer in bringing the guilty to book violates this duty and may itself justify dismissal. For more information contact. Case Law Summaries and Articles. Can employees be dismissed for refusing to accept new terms and conditions of employment? Can an employer dismiss employees because they refuse to agree to a change to their terms and conditions of employment?

Freedom of expression or incitement to commit an offence? A constitutional challenge. Consolidated, comprehensive or general final written warnings. This approach regards the purpose of discipline as a means for employees to know and understand what standards are required of them. The edition of the Labour Law and Employment Manual is now available click here for more information.

Southern Sun: Maharani Towers: Durban. Emperors Palace: Convention Centre. Employment Equity Committee Training. Southern Sun: Maharani: Durban. Emperors Palace Convention Centre. Southern Sun: Elangeni: Durban. Problem-solving and Decision-making Skills. Our Clients. Section 79 2 goes on to state as follows: 2 no person may discriminate against an employee including a former employee or an applicant for employment for exercising a right conferred by this part, and in no person may do or threaten to do any of the following: a require an employee not to exercise a right conferred by this Part; b prevent an employee from exercising a right conferred by this part or; c prejudice an employee because of a past, present or anticipated i failure or refusal to do anything that an employer may not lawfully promote or require an employee to do; ii disclosure of information that the employee is lawfully entitled or required to give to another person; or iii exercise of a right conferred by this Part.

Labour Guide.

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