By: Amy Matthews

Since we work with people, HR professionals can sometimes be affected by emotions.  Certainly, we are dealing with the emotions of others in most situations.

Maybe your CFO and your Accounting Clerk, who were dating on the sly, recently broke up and now the environment is tense.  Employees are complaining. Or, you have a couple of employees who work remotely and other employees want to work remotely too; they don’t understand why other people are getting preferential treatment. And then, some of your staff is clocking out for lunch and others aren’t, and the gossip is twirling madly onsite.

What’s an HR Professional to do? It’s simple.  Three words. Ready? Follow. Company. Policy. Oh, you don’t have a policy?  Well, no wonder things are a mess!

When emotions make the workplace rocky, the policy is the only place we should go. While not every scenario can be foreseen, there are many that can and many that are typical. So, let’s look at our real-life examples.

  1. Co-workers who are dating. What’s the policy? Is it allowed? If so, under what parameters?  Do you allow supervisors to date their direct reports? Do you require to be notified if a relationship develops?
  2. What’s your remote worker policy? Which jobs qualify for this and which require an onsite presence?  Are these rules made clear to your staff?
  3. Do your timekeeping rules clearly state that employees must clock in and out for lunch? Are there times set or specific positions that require this? Has everyone been trained?  Do they know where the time clock is?

Having clear policies in place can take the headache out of these scenarios.  The policies should be available, easy to understand, and communicated to your employees.  This way, when the CFO breaks up with the Staff Accountant, and now they can’t work together and people are complaining, you get to point to your dating policy that clearly states the CFO is in violation for dating a subordinate. Maybe they will both need to find a new job.  Maybe one of them gets re-assigned. Not for the aftermath of the break up—for violating company policy because if we had known about the relationship, we could have come up with a solution that would potentially outlast the relationship. This is a business after all.

Write your workplace policies. Review your policies. These can be fluid. Your zero tolerance may become something occasionally tolerated.  Update that!

Whatever you do—abide by the policies.  What is stated in your handbook is the law of your company and must be followed. We recommend a handbook review at least annually to ensure legal and cultural compliance.  Don’t be caught up in emotion.  Refer to your playbook.