Hi Everyone!

It’s Hector and as always, I greatly appreciate hearing from you. Recently, as Valentine’s Day is coming up, readers have been letting me know about how company romances in the collection department are having an impact on collection performance.

Before I talk about one particular episode, let me address a few ideas about office romances in general.

If a company has several employees working closely together, it’s a fairly safe bet that at some point an office romance will develop. After all, when we spend up to 40 hours together every week, we gradually get to talking personally, laugh, tell jokes, and commiserate together.

Although the pandemic has put a damper on the potential number of office romances to arise due to remote working, ZOOM, Skype, and other teleconference platforms, can be a very good substitute for two people who want to see each other, even if the business topic doesn’t always stay on business.  

The key idea I would like to emphasize is that since love in the workplace is inevitable, your company and HR department should be prepared with a policy to handle this issue before it possibly:

(1) gets out of control

(2) leads to claims of sexual harassment

(3) causes feelings of resentment from other employees due to favoritism or unfair advantages

What should a workplace romance policy cover?

For starters, relationships between supervisors and subordinates should simply not be allowed. Not only does is complicate the work environment for those in the relationship, but it can also undermine a company’s performance and lead to a lot of bad decision making.

On the other hand, I’ve read about companies allowing relationships as long as employees are in different departments or there is no hierarchical association between the two.

In general, a human resources policy on intra-company relationships should contain the following:

  • Acknowledgement that the relationship is consensual
  • Acknowledgement that the relationship was never a term of employment
  • Agreement to follow any PDA (Public Displays of Affection) policies
  • Agreement that the relationship will not affect job performance
  • Agreement that transfers and promotions may be affected by policies that prohibit employees to work in the same department or prohibit supervisor/subordinate relationships
  • Signed copies and agreement of all policies regarding employee relationship conduct

Now, in one of the cases that came across my desk, the credit and collection manager was in a relationship with his younger collector. As the relationship intensified, the collector’s collection performance declined, and the manager was blind to the continuing past dues that were piling up.

The upshot is that one long term customer became 8-months in arrears without a credit hold being placed. This in turn allow inventory to still be shipped, invoices to still be billed, and the A/R past due balance to accumulate to an unprecedented and dangerous level.  

With the above in mind, it might be a good idea to keep any Valentine’s Day parties in the office kind of vanilla.

Hector the Collector is a credit, collection, and human resources advice column by Nancy Seiverd President CMI Credit Mediators Inc. Your thoughts and comments (nseiverd@cmiweb.com) are most welcome!

All Rights Reserved

Nancy Seiverd, President, CMI Credit Mediators, Inc.

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