Argument for the use of consensual relationship agreements (CRAs) in my current (or future) workplace Consensual Relationship Agreement (CRA) is a contract that both employees involved a romantic relationship sign to acknowledge that their relationship is voluntary and that they will abide by the policies of the company regarding anti-harassment and anti-discrimination. (Hellriegel & Slocum ,2011). Office romance should be addressed in a more constructive and professional way just like behaviors such as attendance, dress codes, and non-disclosure agreements.
If one can argue that it is perfectly acceptable for employees with personal challenges (such as death in the family, childbirth, sick family member) to receive assistance and, support in the form of personal time-off from work then it must be reasonable for other employees who become romantically involved to get some type of support from their employers. The risks of office romance can better be mitigated if the risk factors are known and managed. So, for example, lawsuits from employees who claim they were coerced into an office romance and disadvantaged by it would be avoided because employees signed the CRAs of their own volition.
Allegations from other employees of real or imagined favoritism from a supervisor to a subordinate with whom he or she is romantically involved would be averted because HR would have already taken steps to ensure this does not happen. By creating a mechanism which provides specific and detailed guidelines for professional workplace behavior, HR professionals are able to educate and caution employees about appropriate or inappropriate workplace etiquettes. Privacy issues or lack thereof, as related to dating in the workplace would also be appropriately addressed with the employees involved so they cannot claim that were unfairly treated.
Another compelling reason why one should argue for CRAs in their workplaces is that in light of the legal ramifications of the rights of employees in the workplace, CRAs become an expedient and prudent way to protect the interest of an organization and simultaneously provide safe and meaningful ways for employees to freely explore and express their sentiments for others who might feel the same way. Organizations spend a lot of time and resources on strategic planning and forecasting.
The purpose of such planning is to position the organization to accomplish two major goals: stay abreast with, or ahead of, the competitive marketplace and change current processes and approaches that are not yielding desired, or expected results. These are proactive steps to assure progress and success. CRAs facilitate and enhance such strategic plans by staying ahead of a changing workplace in the modern age and ensuring that valuable human resources will not be lost and thereby jeopardize more important organizational goals and objectives.
CRAs provide a framework for responsible behavior by employees, particularly, supervisors. It fosters a win-win work environment for employees who happen to be romantically involved with each other and for employers to provide guidance and direction for appropriate workplace behavioral expectations. By bringing the relationship into the open the employees involved would not feel pressure to go to great lengths to hide their relationship and could focus on being productive. Conversely, these employees would become pre-occupied with finding ways to hide their relationships if the company did not encourage workplace romance.
Create a counter argument against the use of CRAs in your current (or future) workplace. Office romance must be forbidden in the workplace because it simply raises too many avoidable issues in the workplace. By its very nature, office romance predisposes employees involved to compromise their rational objective behaviors because their non-objective emotional senses tend to dominate their thoughts and actions. Romantic relationships are the result of spontaneous human behavior; they are not preconceived and therefore cannot be regulated or contained by contracts.
Making CRAs a condition for employment is also not a good idea because, over time, the restrictions become unbearable and the parties involved find out that they are better off in different organizations where their actions and whereabouts will no longer be scrutinized by an assigned HR person. CRAs are tantamount to indirect employment agreement in that they indirectly impose restrictions on the individuals involved in the relationship and seek to protect the interest of the organization at the expense of the people who happen to be emotionally attracted to each other and choose to express those sentiments in an open and liberating way.
CRAs simply become ineffective tools because the employees who even agree to sign them often find ways to secretly engage in behaviors that result in lapses in judgment because they are emotionally charged. In many respects, CRAs are intrusive and inherently designed to discourage workplace romance. By their very nature they put restrictions on a human behavior that is designed to be spontaneous and natural. Organizations are not equipped to handle issues of the heart and neither should they start now. Organizations need to focus on what they do best, increasing shareholder value and accomplishing other strategic goals and objectives.
Discuss the ethical principles involved in the use of CRAs. There are many perspectives and convictions about what is, or is not ethical. However, there are no universally accepted principles and rules for resolving all ethical issues (Hellriegel & Slocum ,2011). In a country with such great freedom of expression, one can only imagine the diversity of opinions and positions regarding the factors that drive people’s decisions and formulate their ethics. The range of such factors is as wide as the differences in people and this is reflected in the diversity of ethical principles.
However, for the purposes of this paper only a handful of relevant ethics based principles – Utilitarian, Professional Standards, Disclosure and Distributive principles will be considered: Utilitarian principle focuses on the magnitude, extent and impact of harm versus good of decisions that are made. The final decision is predicated on the weight of good versus bad – the greatest good for the greatest number (Hellriegel & Slocum , 2011). On the basis of this principle, CRAs are believed to generate more good than harm for those who choose to engage in office romance.
Disclosure Principle – This principle focuses on how most people in society will react to the details of a decision when it becomes public knowledge. Most organizations take social responsibility very seriously and will do their very best to garner positive public image. Consequently CRAs are viewed favorably by such organizations. Distributive Principle – This principle is predicated on fairness. The thrust of CRAs is a win-win arrangement for both the organization and the individual because most organizations generally perceive CRAs to be fair. Create at least one (1) other option besides CRAs that would address workplace romances.
The only other option for workplace romances that may be plausible is for the organization to develop a set of policies based on the organization interest principle which focuses on the basis of what is good for the organization (Hellriegel & Slocum , 2011). With this option, employees are expected to disclose any potential or actual conflict interest to the human resource professional within the organization. Conflict of interest covers a broad range of behaviors; however, this paper will focus on personal conflict of interest which stresses zero tolerance for discrimination and sexual harassment.
This alternative approach to workplace romances would requires that an employee may not supervise someone with whom they have a close personal relationship such as anyone in their family, household or someone with whom they have or had a romantic relationship or other close personal relationship. Additionally, if one were to supervise someone even indirectly with whom they had one of the relationships described above, one must disclose the relationship promptly. Any acts of discrimination, sexual harassment or other harassment based on race, color, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation would be addressed under a zero tolerance policy.