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For India Inc, office relationships are no longer just a private affair

Last updated on: May 27, 2013 10:37 IST

For India Inc, office relationships are no longer just a private affair

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M Saraswathy and Swaraj Baggonkar in Mumbai

The Phaneesh Murthy saga may be an extreme case of employee misconduct, but India Inc says it is treating it as a wake-up call to make sure its work ethics and disclosure policies are foolproof.

Human resource heads across major Indian firms say while office relationships are inevitable when a majority of the workforce is young, it also calls for processes that ensure such relationships do not affect business performance and office discipline.

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Image: Phaneesh Murthy.
Photographs: Reuters

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Some say they actively discourage relationships at workplace for fear of bad work environment or let-out of confidential information by one partner to the other.

But since they don't have any control over when Cupid strikes, they have put in place stringent measures.

For example, Dhruv Desai, senior vice-president and head (HR & leadership academy), Angel Broking, says they have attempted to get office relationships 'registered' with a confirmation from both the parties.

This, he says, is to avoid future problems if a relationship turns sour.

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Photographs: Reuters

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"While it would not be correct to say India Inc is cold to office romance, it is true that relationships in the same department are discouraged," says Desai.

In cases where an employee wishes to marry a colleague from the same department, one of the two is encouraged to move to another department.

If no positions are available, the company assists them in finding a job.

Some experts say companies have learnt it the hard way.

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Photographs: Reuters

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The HR executive of an IT firm says, in some cases, women complain of sexual abuse after their relationships with male colleagues do not work out.

This creates complications. So, the disclosure policies help.

"While employees are still reluctant to disclose details of romantic office relationships, companies are taking a zero-tolerance approach.

"After all, you can't treat your workplace like a pub," a senior executive says.

In job positions where people handle confidential information, companies are also exploring possibilities of making people sign non-disclosure agreements, so that sensitive information is not discussed or shared with the partner/spouse.

The photograph is used for representational purpose only

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Photographs: Reuters
Tags: India Inc

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Shalini Kamath, MD (HR & corporate communication), Ambit Group, says in cases where the partners have a direct-reporting relationship, they are given an option to switch to other roles.

Protecting female employees has also been a priority for many companies.

Tata Motors says while relationships among individuals are their private issue, those holding sensitive information are aware of their responsibilities and the action the firm will take if such information is compromised.

 




Photographs: Reuters

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