ASK HR: Help your colleague to see the light before it is too late

Friday December 1 2017

One of my colleagues has been having an affair

One of my colleagues has been having an affair with our manager. PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP NATION MEDIA GROUP

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Q. One of my colleagues has been having an affair with our manager. She flaunts the affair for all to see in the office, and when they go out of town together, or when he buys her a present, she broadcasts it.

Morals aside, how do I tell her that other colleagues look down on her and that her kiss and tell behaviour might just cost her a job one of these days?


Workplace relationships are not necessarily bad; there are many couples who have met in their places of work and formed a lasting union.

That said, some organisations have an explicit policy that prohibits romantic relationships amongst colleagues, and stipulates that if it happens, then one of them has to leave the organisation.

Conversely, there are some that accept such relationships, but on condition that the two individuals must not have a reporting work relation, and if they do, then one has to be transferred to a different department.

However, there are relations that are viewed as inappropriate, especially when it involves individuals who have a reporting relationship or where a manager uses his or her powers to coerce an employee into a relationship. Most individuals are not able to separate work from the relationship, therefore creating a situation where there is conflict of interest. It may result in one individual being favoured over other employees who hold the same position, breeding resentment amongst the team members, which is not a conducive work environment for optimal performance.

 To address your case, it seems that the behaviour of your colleague is affecting the way you relate and work as a cohesive team. My suggestion is that you bring this issue to the attention of the HR manager since it seems the manager who should manage the department has misplaced priorities and is the subject of discussion in this case.

 HR will provide guidance and find a lasting solution in line with the existing policy, however, if this unbecoming behaviour persists, it may lead to disciplinary action, especially for the manager since his position dictates that he upholds the values of the organisation and behave appropriately with employees.

 There is also possibility of your colleague losing her job especially if the relationship abates; the manager might frustrate her to resigning so that he can get an opportunity to lure his next target. Your colleague may have misconstrued that theirs is a serious relationship, so please, help her see the light before it is too late.