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Posted at: Nov 19, 2019, 7:49 AM; last updated: Nov 19, 2019, 7:49 AM (IST)

At work, love lost

Affairs at workplace can be a double-edged sword, a reason why new HR practices are stressing on dating disclosures. Post #MeToo, do these make for a more amenable working environment or signal the death of romance?

Mona

To navigate relationships in this age of technology is no easy game; when it happens to be at one’s workplace, get set for even more complications. Post #MeToo movement, rules are being rewritten and harsh penalties doled out to the ones that err.

The recent firing of McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook over dating an employee has brought the focus once again on office affairs, especially as the new HR practices are increasingly stressing on dating disclosures.

Why the need?

Priyanka Gupta sees no logic in divulging one’s personal details in the professional domain. “As long as one is not spending the entire day inside a colleague’s cubicle, no one needs to know.” An accountant with an auditing firm, she dated the man she’s married to. “While we did hang out like any two colleagues do at work, our personal equation was built outside office hours,” says the girl, who quit the company days before she got engaged.  

Standard policy

Surbhi Sharma recently got married and her hubby happens to be her former colleague. An HR professional, she was on a ‘good morning, good evening’ equation with Akshit Butola, who was in the sales team of the same firm. “The bond developed post Akshit left the firm, so as such there was nothing to reveal to the company. But yes, like most companies, had it been the case, one of us would have been expected to quit, which is the standard policy.”

Private space

Anuja Lath, founder Red Alkemi, sees no red in office romances! “Red alchemy has seen many happy relationships prosper, which have led to happy marriages.” As for dating disclosures, she maintains, “I personally see it as infringement on people’s personal space. As a boss, my duty is to see if an employee is productive or not, not who he or she is dating. As a small company it works for us, but I do realise with corporates things are difficult. More the people, more you need to manage.” 

Entrepreneur Sameer Jain too sees no need of dating disclosures as of now. “Over the years, couple of people have found love within our organisation and got married; we are all okay with that.” Net Solutions, the company he has founded, doesn’t discriminate against couples. “While at times HR finds it hard to entertain joint leave requests, but as my wife and I work in the same company, the privilege must be extended to everyone.” 

While post #MeToo, Jain is aware of the issues that can crop up, he handles them by ensuring a safe workplace. “Things are streamlined for we have women at senior positions and stringent policies that ensure work ethics. Even our office parties are sans alcohol and no question of anyone being uncomfortable ever.”

Personal vs professional

Many professionals would rather not mix personal and professional fronts, like Trishneet Arora. This CEO of TAC Security is all for ‘no romance at work’ policy. “While we do not and cannot ask people to break relationships, if we get know we humbly ask one person to quit.” Arora, nominated as Forbes 30 Under-30 for 2018, reasons, “Being in cyber security, confidentiality is everything. Not only at office, we cannot even have people dating with our competitors either. I am not the one to mix personal and professional equations.” 

Entrepreneur Charu Kumar feels that at times people lack maturity to handle relationships at work. “I have seen that personal equations do end up affecting professional atmosphere. There are jealousies, insecurities at play and if the couple is in same team, it becomes rather difficult to maintain objectivity.”

Prerna Kalra, founder, Open Hand Solutions, which deals in HR practices and Prevention of Sexual Harassment at the Workplace (POSH), finds dating disclosures the right step. “More and more companies are now shunning couples in the same team, especially in the reporting line.” Here, just like McDonald’s CEO, onus is on the senior person. “The subordinate, in situations like Steve Easterbrook’s, usually gets the benefit of doubt. Not mature enough, the subordinate can get awed by the power and position, and is in a vulnerable position. Even if a senior is approached by a junior for a consensual relationship, the former should guide the latter.”

mona@tribunemail.com

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