Will you be my Valentine?
Valentine's history is a bit murky with at least three different saints using the name involved in promoting and supporting the course of love. Celebrating Valentine's acts goes back in some form for almost 2,000 years.
This guy's been around.
And although silly to confine romanticism to one day, it's still one one of the nicer events.
Since I write about teams, talent and technology you may wonder what has this to do with work. I'll tell you: your employer may not be as supportive of romance as good old Valentinus.
One of the biggest challenges to employers is defining a couple. In the old days (pre-cable tv) it was simple: you got married, you were a couple. Period. End of benefit story. But that's not reality.
With same-sex relationships, long-term commitments sans marriage (François Hollande?) and recognition of transgender rights its no longer so easy to say who is a couple and who isn't.
Perhaps it should be up to the couples themselves to say but remember this: in the US at least couple “status” has significant impact on life, health and retirement benefits. This is a big deal, not big brother.
If your firm doesn't have clarity around who is a couple add this to your list of priorities for 2014. It may not be romantic, but its important.
Love extends beyond partners.
How much choice do we have to be with our loved ones – partners, parents, children – in the important moments of their life? Autonomy, as Daniel Pink points out, is one of the key elements to satisfaction in life and work.
Is your firm family friendly? Does it enable people to manage their time to be with the ones they love? Are hours in the office flexible, or are people chained to their desk until 6 every night for no sound reason.
The question is simple: does your firm support its employees in spending time with their loved ones? Enlightened firms – with strong recruitment pipelines – do.
The office romance, she blooms!
At work people spend a great deal of time with each other, look, act and dress their best while sharing common interests. Its axiomatic some of them will like each other. Sometimes that “like” progresses to sleeping together (though hopefully not at the office – was that wrong?).
Rather than outlaw romantic interaction a more practical approach would be to clarify workplace expectations. E.g., appropriate use of time and tools, public displays of affection and most important, separation. Good practice says if you date an office mate they must be in a different group. Period.
Yes – that means one of you may have to move.
And never, ever, under any circumstances should people in the same reporting structure be allowed to date. Ever. This is simply a set of sexual harassment allegations waiting to happen. So help your employees bloom in love, albeit with someone not in their own chain of command, by setting expectations.
Ah, the office and love! Surely the twain should never meet!
Yet they do.
Review your organization's stance towards 21st century relationships for, if history tells us anything, its that the course of love is never smooth.
So be prepared, and be my Valentine.