October 23, 2019 in Sociology
Interpersonal Relationships at the Workplace


Romantic relationships have blossomed at the workplace for many years. Many people have seen these relationships to be efficient and convenient for both parties. In most cases, people have met at work and gone on to form healthy marriages that have blossomed for many years. In other cases, however, the situation has not been so rosy. According to a study done by Karnes over 45 percent of individuals sampled in different workplaces admitted to having relationships with their colleagues. Some even admitted to having more than one relationship at the same firm. 

Workplace relationships have been attributed to busy lifestyles that people have adopted in the world currently that limit social interactions to the workplace. Most of the times, people involved in workplace relationships spend most of their time at work. They have no time to spend outside of work and form other personal relationships there. There is a significant imbalance between social life and work. Therefore, this imbalance creates an environment for dating and developing romantic relationships between colleagues in the workplace. People find it easier to develop relationships within the workplace so that they can manage these relationships subsequently with their careers.

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Relationships at the workplace are not limited to employees on the same management line. These relationships occur between employees at any level in the workplace. Some relationships may be between supervisors and lower line employees; other relationships may be between executive managers. Other relationships are between employees in the same department; working on the same project. These relationships may enhance the performance of the employees in the workplace. However, they also pose the risk of creating an unstable environment within the workplace that may affect the manner in which the company achieves its goals, in the long run. In essence, the management of these relationships sets the tone for the success or failure of the company in terms of employee management.

Problem Statement

Romantic relationships within the workplace have enhanced different feelings among employees. The main aspect of these relationships is the manner in which these relationships are managed. In many firms, there is a lack of communication and guidance when it comes to romantic relationships within the workplace. For this reason, these relationships have become one of the primary causes of conflicts at work. Mismanaged relationships between employees have resulted in conflicts that have limited employee performance. As a result of this, obstacles have been created towards the achievement of the goals and objectives of the firm.

Analysis of Workplace Relationships

TradeWinds Corporation has always believed in ensuring that there is an environment in the firm which enhances performance and creativity among its employees. For this reason, the company gives its employees the freedom to establish whichever kind of relationships that they deem appropriate. However, these relationships must not affect the manner in which different business transactions are conducted in the firm. In addition, the company has also stated the need for maintaining appropriate boundaries between personal and business interactions that affect how employees relate to each other within working hours. Through setting these limits, the company has created an environment where employee relationships have been allowed. However, these relationships must not limit affect employee performance or the business’ ability to achieve its goals and objectives, in the long run.

Many firms have taken the risk that TradeWinds Corporation has taken in terms of employee relationships at work. However, other companies have experienced the risks associated with these relationships and have prohibited the development of these relationships in the workplace. Other firms have prohibited relationships between supervisors or managers and lower line employees but encourage relationships among employees who are on the same level. The main problem associated with romantic relationships at the workplace is that they have different implications for the organizational culture and leadership at the workplace.

Impacts of Romantic Relationships on Organizational Culture

According to Griffin and Moorhead, organizational culture is described as a system that enhances the nature of beliefs and values that people in an organization adhere to. It forms the basis of how employees in firms interact with each other and with their work. It also affects individual behavior and the general performance of the company in terms of the achievement of goals and objectives. Organizational culture is one of the elements that are highly affected when it comes to interpersonal relationships at the workplace. TradeWinds Corporation has based its corporate culture on values such as integrity, harmony, and sociability. TradeWinds Corporation also ensures that its corporate culture is enhanced by facilitating a peace-based philosophy to enhance the creation of an environment that promotes creativity and performance.

During my time at the firm, there were various romantic relationships going on among different employees. These relationships had completely disregarded the company policy of not affecting business performance. On a particular instance, one of the employees was having a relationship with two other employees in different departments concurrently. This relationship had gone on for a while before the two employees realized that they were having a relationship with the same man. As Karnes explains, over 20 percent of employees have had more than one relationship at the same time. The realization of this relationship led to a major fight between the three individuals. In this regard, romantic relationships are a primary cause of conflicts at the workplace. As witnessed at TradeWinds Corporation, and as Lo explains, these relationships may result in interdepartmental conflicts that end up affecting employee performance. In this regard, these relationships affected the culture of harmony and sociability among workers that form the basis of the company’s philosophy.

TradeWinds is also based on an organizational culture that encourages hard work and creativity within the organization. Romantic relationships at the workplace have a way of ensuring that hard work, creativity, and determination are limited in the firm. Romantic relationships cause a lapse in concentration in many workers. This lapse in concentration occurs as a result of spending too much time chatting, emailing, gossiping and talking about irrelevant topics during working hours. These actions reduce the performance effectiveness of an employee; thus resulting in a reduced rate of motivation that affects hard work and creativity.

Team dynamics is also an essential part of the organizational culture of TradeWinds. Working as a team and coming up with ideas from a group perspective enhances the aspects of unity, harmony, and peace in the organization. Romantic relationships at the workplace complicate the dynamics of teamwork. Having some members of the team being romantically involved may affect the team positively or negatively. Positive implications include encouraging participation and efficiency in team performances. On the other hand, these relationships may result in adverse interactions especially if there are conflicts among the couples. Some couples may bring romance into teamwork; thus excluding other members of the team. Romance in teamwork also tends to slow down the communication process in the team especially if some of the members become disinterested in team activities. As a result, team dynamics becomes too complicated to deal with thus reducing the effectiveness of group dynamics in the firm.

Impact of Romantic Relationships on Organizational Ethics

Organizational ethics describes the code of conduct for various behavioral characteristics and relationships among employees in the firm. Organizational ethics is important in enhancing productive relationships among employees to improve performance and creativity at the workplace. Organizational ethics also enhance effective decision-making in the company; enabling leaders to make decisions that positively affect the welfare of the employees. Romantic relationships change the dynamics of organizational ethics. Romantic relationships bring out the nature of control and power in the firm. When romantic relationships are between managers and lower line employees, power struggles are experienced and thus these power struggles affect decision-making. Since managers are romantically involved with lower line managers, their decision-making is affected. Managers are faced with a dilemma of making decisions that will affect their partners negatively.

Organizational ethics is also affected when it comes to employee promotions and demotions. Couples that work together may find it hard to deal with situations where one of the members of the relationship has been awarded a promotion and the other one has not. On the other hand, one of the members may find it hard to communicate with the other member when they have been demoted in the workplace. Additionally, a compromise of ethics may come in when managers promote their partners to higher positions or deny the promotion of an individual because of a past relationship that failed. In this regard, it is impossible to enhance ethics in the firm while being involved in romantic relationships in the firm.

Karnes explains that favoritism is another aspect of organizational ethics that comes up when romantic relationships are present in firms. Assignment of duties in TradeWinds became compromised in one department because of the supervisor being romantically involved with one of the employees. Agreeing with this claim, Lo explains that other managers compromise ethics when they make decisions such as increased pay and elongated leaves of absence for their partners. As a result, other employees may feel neglected thus creating negative feelings at the workplace.

Organizational ethics is also compromised when sexual harassment claims are raised against employees because of failed romantic relationships. Unwanted sexual advances are a major breach of the code of conduct of employees that results in the creation of unfriendly and unreceptive work environments that affect the general performance of the firm.

Recommendations to Guide Interpersonal Relationships at the Workplace

The management at TradeWinds Corporation and other firms should develop an ethical code of conduct that will be able to guide employees on how to carry out relationships at work. The code of conduct will define different behavioral activities that need to be enhanced in the workplace to ensure that all employees in the firm are comfortable. This code of conduct will also protect employees against sexual harassment from their fellow employees. In this regard, the code of conduct will ensure that the management of the firm has a controlled way of managing relationships at the workplace.

Griffin and Moorhead also suggest that it is wise for the management to set clear guidelines on interpersonal relationships at the workplace. These guidelines will form the basis of these relationships and lay ground rules towards co-existing peacefully in the organization. The policy guidelines will also provide the rules that employees must follow to ensure that conflicts resulting from romantic relationships are limited.

In addition, the management should formulate policies that guide promotions, demotions, pay increases and other motivational rewards for employees. These guidelines will prevent managers from compromising organizational ethics and awarding their partners promotions without managerial consent. It will also protect employees involved in past relationships from unfair treatment at the workplace and reduce negativity from other employees.

The management should also come up with clear cut penalties for employees who fail to follow policy guidelines on romantic relationships at the workplace. These penalties will enable employees to maintain the organizational culture of the firm and ensure that their performance is not affected by romantic relationships at the firm.

The management should encourage a direct communication policy with the human resources department. This communication policy will enable employees to report any inappropriate behavior that compromises work efficiency and productivity. Employees will also report supervisors discretely who make inappropriate advances on them. This communication policy will remain private and facilitate effective communication between employees and the human resources department. It will also ensure that conflicts are managed within the firm and that the human resources department is well-prepared for future conflicts with respect to romantic relationships.


In summary, romantic relationships in the workplace have been experienced as a result of the imbalance between social lives and work-related activities. The nature of life in the world currently encourages the development of these relationships. Many firms, like TradeWinds Corporation, have experienced risks associated with romantic relationships at the workplace. They have experienced how these romantic relationships affect organizational culture and organizational ethics. Romantic relationships affect team dynamics, peace, hard work and harmony at TradeWinds; thus affecting their organizational culture. These relationships also compromise the ethics of the organizations encouraging favoritism, unfair treatment of employees and sexual harassment cases.

For this reason, firms like TradeWinds Corporation who are experiencing these relationships should come up with different means of addressing these issues. Developing an ethical code of conduct for employee behavior is important. It is also important to come up with policies and guidelines that will form the framework for romantic relationships at work. It is impossible to prohibit these relationships because it may create an aura of autocratic leadership in the firm. However, it is important to set guidelines that will ensure that these relationships are developed within the institutional framework of the company. It is should be a priority to ensure that these relationships do not undermine employee performance that will affect the manner in which the organization achieves goals and objectives.


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