Gen United

The do’s and don’ts of workplace relationships 👥

In this blog we’ll be covering:
👥 Friendships can make work better, but beware being clicky with just one person
👥 Don’t base a friendship on gossip. Workers need to stick together
👥 There are risks to being in an intimate relationship with someone at work
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4 minutes

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How to combine work with friendships

One of the best things about your first regular job can be the friends you make. Having people you enjoy spending time with makes those crazy busy hours go heaps faster. And when you’ve got a bestie to laugh with at closing time when it’s all over, it makes finishing off a tiring shift that little bit easier.  

But, while a lot of workplaces are great for making friends, or even something more (wink wink), you need to be wary. There are some do’s and don’ts for workplace relationships.  

Existing friendships

Your bestie from high school has recommended you for a job at the bar she works at. You get to hang out together all week. Yay! It’s super fun working with your friends, but here are some things to keep in mind.   

DO keep it professional(ish) at work. You don’t want to end up getting rostered on different shifts.  

DON’T share secrets or personal stories about your mate to other co-workers. Even if they haven’t explicitly said something is a secret, your friend might assume you know where to draw the line. If in doubt, keep your lips sealed.  

DO try to get to know the other people in your team. You don’t want to isolate yourself by only hanging with your bestie.   

DON’T stay in a crappy job so you can hang with your friend. You both deserve to be paid properly and treated with respect. You can join your union together and stand up for your rights knowing you have each other for support. Friends who fight together are tight forever.  

Work friends 

You’ve worked together for ages and while you wouldn’t hang out after work, you know everything that’s going on in your co-worker’s life. Work friendships are one of the most common workplace relationships we form.  

Interestingly, these workplace friendships are more likely to develop when co-workers feel they’ve been mistreated by a bad boss. If you’ve got a new work friend, here’s what to keep in mind.   

DO let other people into your circle. You don’t want to get a reputation for being only friends with each other and no one else.   

DON’T gossip about others. Sometimes workplace friendships can lead to gossiping, which can become toxic in workplaces. If there’s something you see that worries you, speak to your manager or your union.   

DO consider joining the union together, if you’re trying to deal with an awful boss or situation.   

DON’T worry if you don’t keep in touch after you leave your job. Some work friends are just for that period in your life when the workplace bonded you.   

Starting a relationship

So, you’ve got your eye on the babe behind the coffee machine who’s a whiz with the latte art? Starting a new relationship in any workplace can be risky. You don’t want to jeopardise your working relationship or create an awkward team environment (particularly if things go sour). Here are some things to consider.  

DO be respectful. If there’s someone at work you like and you think they’re flirting back, make sure that’s the case. And if they’re not into you, lick your wounds in private. It’s vital that you continue acting in a friendly, respectful manner. Not everybody is aware when they are sexually harassing someone. Sexual harassment is prohibited and it’s a serious thing if you get accused. 

DON’T try to keep it secret (for too long). Sure, keep it on the down-low at first, but these things always come out eventually. It’s better to be on the front foot and tell people before you’re the subject of constant gossip. Also, to make sure it’s all legit workwise, in some cases, you may need to flag your relationship with your HR department or your boss.   

DO keep in mind any power imbalances that may exist. If you’re a manager and you like someone who is junior to you, tread carefully. They may feel uncomfortable with your attention, but don’t want to say so for fear of losing shifts or their job. If you’re not sure if they’re into you, err on the side of caution.    

DON’T be a sexual harasser! Sexual harassment includes, but is not limited to, making inappropriate jokes, making comments about someone’s body, unwanted touching, repeatedly asking someone out. Workplace sexual harassment is absolutely unacceptable. If you’re being harassed at work, join your union and find out your rights.

Established relationships

A position has come up at your boyfriend’s work and you’ve jumped at it. It sounds awesome, right? Save on the commute by travelling in together and you get to spend extra time with each other.  

Working with your partner can be great, but it can also be… challenging. Here’s what you should consider.   

DO be upfront about your relationship when applying for a job at the same place. There’s no way that’s staying secret for long! 

DON’T bring your relationship drama to work. No one at your work wants to hear about how your partner never picks up their dirty undies or was rude to your family.   

DO hold off on PDA until you leave work. That means no hand-holding, no sneaky kisses, and please let no-one EVER find you doing something you shouldn’t be doing in the break room.   

DON’T pull your workmates into your relationship. Find another friend outside work if you really need to analyse your relationship. It makes people uncomfortable, and it’s actually super unprofessional when they work with both of you.  

People you don’t like/enemies/frenemies

There’s always someone at work who you just don’t gel with. Whether it’s your differing political opinions (you voted for WHO?!), the way they suck up to the boss, or maybe they act like they’re a cut above everyone else.  

Regardless of your personal opinions, we need to keep our workplaces as harmonious as possible. Here are some things to remember.   

DO keep things professional. Sure, it can be hard when you’ve heard that they’ve made up stories about you, but you don’t want to stoop to their level.  

DON’T bad mouth people behind their back.  

DO be respectful at all times.  

DON’T refuse to work with them. Although if there’s more to this animosity than a simple personality clash, like bullying or harassment, tell your employer or ask for advice from your union. Your employer has to ensure you’re safe at work.  

Got any workplace relationship horror stories?

Share them with us!

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