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Human Resources: Relationships Shape Workplaces on Many Levels

Relationships word cloud

By Cheryl Chong

Time for a “Love Contract”?

Considering the litigious world we live in today and the CA employer’s obligation to protect its employees from sexual harassment, it would be a wise idea to look at your workplace policies and draft one that discourages romantic relationships. However, this is not within anyone’s control.

An employer can try to limit its potential liability for issues that may arise from consensual relationships that occur between employees in the workplace. The concern that most employers should have is if and when the consent turns sour, the employees may have a claim regarding sexual harassment or discrimination claims. Even worse, what if the relationship occurred between a manager and subordinate. Think of the potential conflict of interest issues, confidentiality of work discussions, unwelcome speech or behavior (third party harassment issues) and favoritism.

Consensual relationship agreements or “love contracts” are a tool an employer can use to minimize or mitigate the potential for employee relations disasters that can disrupt the smooth flow of the operations at work. Such an agreement should state that consensual relationships should not cause disruption in the workplace or lead to sexual conduct/misconduct in the workplace. If an employer comes to know about a consensual relationship in the workplace, they should discretely approach both parties and speak to them confidentially about signing this agreement. That way, the employer can cover itself for any liabilities. The parties are spoken to about respecting workplace boundaries and to behave in a professional and appropriate manner in all workplace contexts.

The Art of Customer Service

While there is a concerted push in every aspect of businesses especially in the private sector to provide excellent customer service to vendors, customers, etc., I often feel that there is a dearth or lacking of internal customer service. What do I mean by this? I often observe employees or internal customers lacking in the art of customer service within their organizations.

Employees often treat customers with better respect or pay more attention just because their customers are paying for services. But what of our internal customers? Don’t they also matter or matter just as much? When management and employees take care of each other, display respect, dignity, fair play and have teamwork, it makes employees more aware of their actions and have a good cause and effect. What comes sincerely internally will naturally have a more natural effect or affect outwards. In the world of ISO, one slogan that caught on with me is “Say what you do, do what you say.” Do unto others as you would wish upon yourself. Be mindful of our actions and it will become an innate and natural behavior to perform the same way with everyone, be it that they are paying or non-paying customers.

Spread love, kindness, joy, happiness and smile. Go the extra mile and eliminate egos and attitudes. Let it be for the greater good of having a warm and welcoming workplace since we already spend so much time there, much more than we sometimes get to spend at home with loved ones. So then it becomes the art of customer service.


CherylSince Doug Moore has retired, Cheryl Chong has joined VMA as our Human Resources Director and your #1 source for assistance responsible for counseling on HR matters like family leave, discrimination, sexual harassment and wage and hour compliance. She has a Bachelors and Masters degree from Chapman University in Orange, CA, along with 20+ years of HR experience in the trenches. Think of her as an extension of your HR department, courtesy of VMA. Please feel free to reach out for answers or introduce your organization by calling 800-659-3363 or cheryl@vma.bz.

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