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Consensual Relationship Agreements

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Consensual Relationship Agreements CHIP HAMMONDS
Business 520: Leadership & Organizational Behavior
Dr. Adrienne Garabedian
October 30, 2012

Consensual Relationship Agreements are good in my future workplace because of the following assertions and facts.
The average employee spends forty or more hours a week at the workplace. In essence this is a considerable amount of time. Therefore, a common bond naturally occurs among employees. Men and women work side by side for extended periods of time. This has not always been the case. This closeness allows individuals to form likes and dislikes. Over a period of time working together, employees tend to create bonds with one another based on physical, emotional, and socio-economic similarities. It's human nature to become attracted to someone with similar likes. CRA's are needed to thwart charges of favoritism, sexual harassment, preferential treatment (Miller v. Department of Corrections).In this case a warden was alleged to have had concurrent relationships with three subordinate women. One woman reportedly bragged to coworkers that her promotion was secure because "she knew every scar on his body" and could take him down. Two other females brought a sexual harassment claim, alleging that the only way to get promoted was to engage in a sexual affair with the warden. The California court concluded that consensual workplace affairs do not normally constitute sexual harassment, but when "sexual favoritism' in a workplace is sufficiently widespread; it may create a hostile workplace for others. To summarize, a CRA would eliminate the employer from civil liability.
CRA's are useful in maintaing the productivity of the company. When there is a actual or perceived relationship between a manager and subordinate, it is human nature to "slack off" job functions. Productivity is lost not only by the individual involved, but most importantly by other employees. Common attributes of loss productivity may be seen through Absenteeism, excessive breaks, and tardiness. Fellow employees tend to lose morale, and managing by objectives is thrown out the window. When a romance specifically between a manager and a subordinate is seen visibly by the rest of the employees, those employees productivity will usually decrease.
Workplace violence is another reason CRA's are needed. When a relationship sours, many times, the disgruntled employee becomes disillusioned and distraught to the point of violent behavior toward the other person or other company employees. There are numerous incidents to report this. Workplace violence caused by jilted lovers is too prevalent in today's society. Sixty one percent of employers have experienced or see a need to combat violence in the workplace (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010 pgs 7-10). CRA's aren’t a cure all, but a step in the right direction.
Lastly, CRA's are beneficial to help prevent relationships based on exploitation. This is prevalent in the institutions of higher learning. This is articulated in two parts. The first directed to employee relationships before mentioned. The second to faculty-student relationships. The student teacher represents a special case, because the integrity of this relationship is of fundamental importance to the central mission of the institution (Duke University, pg. 1, 2002). The Penn State scandal is a recent and degrading example.
In exploring why individuals engage in workplace romances, theories of attraction play a vital role in explaining the development of romances, and social psychology points out the strong link between proximity, familiarity and attraction. The mere exposure effect (Zajonic, 1968), for example, suggest that individuals who work in close proximity to one another rare prone to developing interpersonal relationships more frequently than those who do not work side by side. Similar beliefs, attitudes, education, and background is the root of attraction between people. More women are now working side by side with men.
The conventional wisdom that work and sex, business and pleasure should be kept absolutely separate conflicts with human nature. So does it conflicts with the experience of thousands of Americans who are prepared to overlook the risks of the rewards. In the old days, the risks were considerable and employees frowned upon office romances. Now, although they may be officially discouraged, liaisons are increasingly tolerated as the powers that can learn that these relationships may be harmless and even beneficial.
With power redistributed in the American office, there's a brave new world of sexual options. As more and more women come to occupy positions of authority, they are acquiring a host of unfamiliar opportunities, many are taking advantage of them .Many women find it a thrill to behave as men have long done: to pick up a man purely on the basis of his attractiveness, with no ulterior motive.
There is more to it than sex. The new working environment can also foster the gradual discovery of solid, even long lasting relationships. They can begin with camaraderie and then shade into something more intense. Personally speaking, offices are surprisingly a good place to find love. It beats placing an ad on an online dating service and heaven forbid a blind date. At work, I can see how someone interacts with nice and difficult people, and how he/she handles stress. A two hour date, on the other hand, shows you how good she can market herself over dinner.
Perhaps the central concern for employers is not to thwart workplace romance, but to manage it. In doing so, the challenge is to strive for balance. My ideal workplace will promote a culture that understands, recognizes, and acknowledges the development of workplace romance. Lastly, the employer should maintain a workplace atmosphere flexible enough to allow and trust people to make decisions about their relationship, particularly when issues of reward and productivity come into play.
There are some ethical principles involved in the implementation of CRA's. The degree of acceptance depends on the approach of the individual, group and the company itself. Individuals must not take the hedonistic approach, which focused on how it would affect them. There must be a focus on the company. It is in the interest of the company‘s long-term goals to implement a CRA. A huge factor companies must understand is that of privacy. This can be a delicate issue. What right does my employer have to tell me who I may date, how I may dress, and what I may and may not do away from work. What impact a CRA will have on my individual goals. Overall any CRA must develop a median for the individual rights and making sure the company maintains profitably and productivity for company stakeholders. A committee of workers and management could establish the equilibrium need to implement an effective CRA.
Lastly, in the lieu of CRA, employers may need to institute a policy within the Human Resources Department to determine, investigate, and make final decisions on a case by case basis. This should include a provision which is primarily instructive and corrective. In addition, there is no intent either to intrude on the privacy or interfere with individual rights. In essence,
Human Resource department needs to develop a conflict of interest clause in the hiring process. If I am hired and eventually become involved with a colleague of mine, it is my obligation to report it to my immediate supervisor.

References

Duke University/Duke University Health System March, 2002 pgs.1-4 Policy on Consensual Relationships
All Work and No Play: How Much Should an Employer Control Love Lives. Stephanie Davis. September, 2005 pgs.1-3
Getting Comfortable with Couples in the Workplace. A.B. Fisher. March 1994. pg.70-75.

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