February 15

Rules for the office romance…….!

It’s the 14th February, and love is likely to be in the air. And seeing that we spend 90% of our day with colleagues within our organisation, chances are that falling in love in or around the office environment is highly likely and is happening now more frequently than ever.

Here are a few tips for budding office lovebirds:

Don’t look up or down
One scenario even more potentially disastrous than dating a colleague is a relationship that crosses the command chain. Fancy having an affair with your boss? Then get ready for a career brick wall if it goes wrong. Similarly, bosses should be extremely careful about the legal implications of a relationship with someone further down the food chain.

There is a caveat here: statistics suggest that people who start a relationship with their boss are more likely to end up marrying them, perhaps because both parties realise just how much is at stake.

Loose lips sink ships
If both employees are at the same level in the company, then the romance should be kept as low-key as possible; an office can be unsettled by rumours and gossip around the water cooler. Also, consider what you put out on social media, especially if you have work colleagues who can read your timeline. If you don’t want to answer awkward questions, don’t give people ammunition.

All workers are equal
There is little an employer can do about a budding relationship. But, as an employee, make sure you treat everyone equally. Just because the new love of your life is sitting five yards away, doesn’t mean they’re always right about work-related decisions. Leave your private life at home, and maintain a sense of professionalism at work.

Not in the kitchen, please
PDAs (also known as public displays of affection) are a no-no in the office. No one wants to walk into the kitchen to find you two squeezed up against the microwave while your lunch goes nuclear. Also, never use emotional language – a relationship is private. If you start an argument or row based on something that has happened outside the office, it can have a catastrophic effect on staff morale and therefore the company’s bottom line.

Over and out

There might come a time when your relationship ends, and you may need to talk to your boss about this. This can be tricky and something which, frankly, your employer probably doesn’t need. Always remember that your boss cannot side with either party if your affair is over; they’ll have to maintain discretion and impartiality.

What both staff and employers need to set out from the very beginning is this: we’re all adults and we understand these things happen from time to time, but there are lines that shouldn’t be crossed. Just as you trust your colleagues to drive the company forward, and use their common sense and initiative to implement procedures and plans, you need to trust anyone you might get involved with romantically to behave themselves at work.

Oh….and please, don’t do anything dodgy on the photocopier.

February 8

The benefits of an ageing workforce……

Older employees are an overlooked and underutilised skill and resource. Here’s how to make the most of them in your business:

1. Don’t assume older people want to retire. You may personally long for the day when you can give up work to do nothing, but remember that others may not. Some people find work rewarding and stimulating and it gives them a sense of purpose. Others need to work for financial necessity. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that your dream is their dream.

2. Don’t assume they are past it. Put aside any outdated ideas you might have about what old people are like. People over the age of 50 today are an entirely different generation to their parents and grandparents. They are vibrant, energetic and have a lot to give to the workforce through their skills and experience built up over many years.

3. Talk to them. Don’t be nervous when discussing future planning and retirement with older people. Ask them what they would like to do and talk about how that might fit in with the plans you have for the business – it is worth considering phased retirement schemes for example, which can be a good option for both sides. And while you’re at it, ask their advice on how they would like to be managed and supported. If you treat the whole experience as a learning curve for both of you, you may come up with some extremely helpful answers which will be useful for dealing with other older employees.

4. Tap into their knowledge. Use their experience to your advantage by setting up mentoring schemes. Older workers can pass on what they know to younger colleagues, who in turn can give their own insights into new approaches to work. And don’t assume older people are technology-illiterate either. They can be just as good at using new technology as anyone else.

5. Don’t patronise them. Don’t talk down to them and don’t constantly make references to the fact that they are from a different generation. Just because they remember a time before Google existed doesn’t give you a licence to make jokes about ‘the olden days’ in every conversation.

6. Don’t discriminate. Be very careful not to discriminate against older workers in the way that you allocate tasks, or promote, or indeed anything, as you could end up in court facing an unfair discrimination claim. And clamp down immediately on any discriminatory behaviour or remarks by others in the office. Remember that the government abolished the default retirement age of 65 two years ago.

7. Provide training. Older workers might still have another 15 to 20 years left in the workforce, so don’t skimp on training because you are concerned it might not be worth it. It will.

8. Count the advantages. Older workers are more likely to have grown up children than small ones so are less likely to need to be absent for childcare reasons, or to need maternity or paternity leave. They are also less likely to turn up to work tired and hungover after a big night out. Think about it. They could actually be the most reliable workers you will ever have.