But a lot of companies don't let the rank and file decide--they adopt policies that ban or limit workplace dating--all in the name of lowering liability.Enforcing these policies can take their toll on a company. Earlier this year, Best Buy's chief executive, Brian Dunn, stepped down after an investigation by the board discovered he had shown "extremely poor judgment" with a 29-year-old female employee.
The reason: an internal inquiry into his relationship with a 26-year-old female employee. As companies grow and add employees, you will often see signs of budding workplace relationships.As the old saying goes "you don't dip your pen in the company ink." In other words, you shouldn't get into a dating or sexual relationship with a co-worker.But consider this: according to a recent Workplace Options survey, nearly 85% of 18-29 year olds would have a romantic relationship with a co-worker, compared to just over 35% for 30-46 year olds and about 30% of 47-66 year olds.Yes, workplace romance can be managed if two people really care about one another, keep their relationship as quiet as possible and act like professionals at work.However, sometimes the crazy creeps in and that’s when a workplace romance policy can protect your company. Download our free e-book, 7 Most Frequent HR Mistakes and How to Avoid Them.Chain-of-command issues One of the most troubling scenarios of dating in the workplace involves a relationship that forms between a supervisor and a subordinate.No matter how consensual the relationship may seem, there is always a chance that the subordinate will later claim that he was coerced into the relationship by the supervisor.Chas Rampenthal is general counsel and vice president of product development at Legal Zoom.He's also a former talk radio host (KTLK AM 1150 at Clear Channel) and an entrepreneur himself, as the founder of Legal Endeavor.Workplace romances tend to be the stuff of legend – either because a department (or entire company) got dragged into the drama, or the couple lives happily ever after. For that reason, many companies discourage interoffice dating. Yes, it may feel weird to try and control someone’s love life, but your job as a leader is to ensure a fair and equitable workplace. Lest you feel hard-hearted for discouraging workplace lovebirds, consider the turmoil and drop in productivity that can be caused by gossip, poor morale, and accusations of favoritism or sexual harassment charges.