How I Met Your Mother – Before Tinder
3 Minute Read
3 Minute Read

There has been a generational dating shift. Back in the 90’s and early 2000’s the internet was seen as a risky place to meet people (and still is) and the concept of meeting your partner online would be met with skeptical glances and worried questions.

According to Statista in 1995 only 2% of people met their spouse online, the most popular means was through friends (33%) followed closely by at work (19%) and at a bar (19%)

Accelerate to 2017 and a phenomenal 39% of people met their partner online, and only 11% at work. Studies from 2023 suggest the online space is now over 40% responsible for people pairing up.

When you consider dating trends and methods, it is probably not surprising, I suppose it is hard to ghost someone when you work with them?

There is also the perception of perfection to consider, that dating apps allow users to be supremely ‘picky’ not swiping perhaps because someone’s eyebrows are slightly too prominent, or he doesn’t have enough photos with friends, or lists music tastes that perhaps annoy you. The ability to screen to such a degree clearly has the impact of taking some of the spontaneity out of getting to know someone or judging them too quickly.

Where can relationships go wrong in the workplace?

Relationships at work do however still happen, and they continue to be a thorn in the side of HR where things go wrong. The relationship itself isn’t always the trickiest part, yes it’s annoying when people sneak off together, or favouritism is shown or two people are looking at each other like love sick puppies across a room, the real concern comes at the beginning and the end.

Whilst issues at the end of a relationship should be self-explanatory, at the beginning (if it can even be described as a beginning) when a pursuer doesn’t get that ‘she is just not that into you’ and risks burning the house down with a potential sexual harassment claim, you may start to wonder why your business doesn’t have a relationship at work policy.

What is a relationship at-work policy?

Typically, a relationship at-work policy would cover things like:

  • The need to disclose a relationship- to ensure that line management relationships are not blurred and to ensure equal treatment of staff and remove favouritism.  
  • To advise against pursuing a personal relationship on the basis of assumption and that unwanted advances can be easily misconstrued as sexual harassment which would be considered an act of gross misconduct.  
  • That relationships if formed should take place entirely outside of work and that only professional behaviour in the workplace will be tolerated.  

How do employers handle relationships in the workplace?

Balance does however need to be struck between a policy and the employees’ right to a private life and ensuring that we do not encroach on that right.

Such a policy may not fit with your culture and could undermine the trust you have in your employees, however, where you have close knit teams or feel that your organisation faces specific risks if relationships were to emerge, it may be that either an enhancement to existing policies can provide you with protection, if not ensure that any relationship policy is drafted bespoke to your business so that it only goes as far as is reasonably necessary to address the risk you have identified.

Are you ready to be your workplace hero?

The landscape of dating has drastically shifted over the years, with online platforms playing an increasingly significant role. However, relationships in the workplace remain a complex issue for HR departments to navigate. To address potential pitfalls, consider implementing a relationship at-work policy tailored to your organisation’s culture and needs. Striking a balance between respecting employees’ privacy and mitigating risks is crucial.

If you’re unsure where to start, reach out to us for guidance or to craft your own policy that fits your business! Contact our award employment lawyers and advisors today for a free consultation.