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The ethics of office relationships... what would you do?

Wednesday 4 November, 2020
by Anonymous

You are the head of your department in a large organisation and have a good relationship with the majority of your staff. As restrictions ease, your team is slowly returning to the office in a new world after working from home for several months.

Since returning to the office on a regular basis you have noticed that a senior employee in a leadership role has been spending an increasing amount of time with a much younger member of your team.

There are a lot of coffee breaks together and they spend a considerable amount of time in one-on-one meetings. You’ve now started to notice a pattern of them occasionally being absent on the same day.

There is no direct reporting line.  

Photograph of two individuals having coffee, viewed from above the table. Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash.

Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash

What would you do?

  • Is there a duty of care for you – as the manager – to approach the issue?
  • Is there an obligation for the relationship to be disclosed? 

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This dilemma was originally published in February 2020. 


There are 3 comments for The ethics of office relationships... what would you do?.

Re: The Ethics of Managing People... What Would You Do?

Thursday 13 February, 2020
by Julien Meinrath
I think it would depend on the personal relationship I had with the Senior Employee. If it were close enough I could speak to her to gain a better understanding about what was going on before making an assumption. I could suggest she leave personal friendships that take time out of productivity out of the office environment.

Re: The ethics of office relationships... what would you do?

Wednesday 4 November, 2020
by Bart
Some courage needs to be had here and the senior employee needs to be questioned. If there is a relationship developing then the senior employee needs to be made aware of the conflicts of interest that are developing by them being in a close personal relationship. The relationship should absolutely be disclosed to senior management

Re: The ethics of office relationships... what would you do?

Wednesday 4 November, 2020
by Rob
I'm not sure of the relevance of the "much younger". Are they perceived to be vulnerable due to age gap? The relationship should be disclosed to ensure conflicts of interest are managed, but otherwise left to do their own thing.

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