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Leadership and Organizational Behavior

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Running head: ASSIGNMENT #1

Assignment #1 - Consensual Relationship Agreements Case Study

Dr. Obi. Iwuanyanwu

BUS 520 Leadership and Organizational Behavior

April 16, 2012

Argue for the use of Consensual Relationship Agreements (CRAs) in your current (or future) workplace.

Romances and relationships established between employees in the workplace are a sensitive subject that companies cannot avoid. "With more employees working longer days and spending so much of their time on-the-job, romantic relationships at work are developing more frequently" (Fennel, Filosa, & Wilson, 2003). Companies have policies and procedures set in place to address issues such as harassment and discrimination, but the majority of companies are lacking a policy to address workplace relationships. Hellriegel and Slocum state that, "Seventy-two percent of companies had no policy regarding workplace romance, according to the Society for Human Resource Management" (2011). Consensual Relationship Agreements have started to become established in today's workplace to serve as a written contract in which the employees involved agree to certain stipulations regarding their relationship or romance. The signed agreement stipulates the company's policies and procedures for engaging in a workplace romance and how involved employees are to conduct themselves.

There are several reasons as to why Consensual Relationship Agreements should be established in the workplace. One reason would be to protect the company from a sexual harassment claim. A stipulation of a CRA is that the relationship is consensual and that the employees agree to the company's discrimination and sexual harassment policies. Having the two parties sign this agreement is protection for the company if a breakup were to happen and one employee decides to claim sexual harassment. Not only is the company protected, but the other employee involved becomes protected due to his/her signature on the agreement. According to a survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management in 1998, twenty-four percent of workplace relationships ended in sexual harassment claims (Fennel, Filosa, & Wilson, 2003). After a relationship has ended, some employees may file a claim stating that they were harassed or forced into a relationship. A signed CRA provides contractual evidence that the claim is false, because both parties agreed that the relationship was consensual.

Another reason to have a CRA policy in the workplace is that the agreement allows for the company to deem what is appropriate and allowable for a relationship between employees. This means that the company is able to personalize and set forth the policies and rules that they want to implement in their own CRA. According to Kohlberg's stages of moral development, individuals evolve to different stages at different rates. CRAs place moral importance onto workplace relationships and expect the employees to abide by the agreement. Not everyone has the same ethical reasoning that they use to justify decisions or their behavior. There has to be a policy in place that will place the moral importance onto the subject, so that this decision is not left up to the employees who may be at different stages of moral development.

Companies being able to shape their CRA agreement to fit into their work environment will strengthen their organization culture. Hellriegel and Slocum state that, "Organizational culture reflects the shared and learned values, beliefs, and attitudes of its members" (2011). Every company has a different organizational culture, and the policies and procedures set forth by the company reflect this. CRAs will differ from one to business to another, but each company has the opportunity to implement a CRA that will strengthen their organizational culture. This will happen because their culture and what that company deems appropriate will be reflected into the CRA. All aspects from discrimination all the way to workplace relationships will be covered by the company.

Decreasing of favoritism accusations is another reason to have CRAs in the workplace. When employees are in relationships with other employees or in some cases their supervisor, one can be accused of favoritism. "It's not uncommon for employees to bring claims alleging favouritism towards coworkers who are sexually involved with a supervisor" (Burd, Davies, & Silkin, 2001). Signing a CRA refutes the possibility that employees in higher management positions can be accused of favoritism. One of the stipulations agreed upon in the CRA is that the parties involved may not engage in favoritism. The employee in the higher position has no influence on things such as promotions and rewards just because they may be in a relationship with a subordinate.

Consensual Relationships Agreements should be adopted by workplaces to avoid future issues that may arise. A future healthcare workplace should especially adopt CRAs to decrease potential sexual harassment claims, increase proper conduct around patients and other healthcare professionals, decrease favoritism accusations, and allow for the organizational culture of the healthcare practice to be strengthened. CRAs provide protection for the company as well as the employees. Companies need to make sure that all bases are covered when dealing with two employees in a relationship. In the end, companies have to protect the business aspect and policies and procedure are a way to help to do this. The point of a CRA is not to infringe upon the privacy of the employees, but it is a precautionary policy to protect them while they are in the workplace.

Create a counter argument against the use of CRAs in your current (or future) workplace.

Consensual Relationship Agreements should not be established in the workplace for various reasons. One reason is that employees feel that CRAs are an invasion of their privacy. Employees think that their relationships are not the business of their supervisors and/or other employees. According to Nick Easen (2004), employees stated that "Unless an office relationship is having a negative impact on the partners' ability to perform tasks, there is a strong argument saying their relationship has absolutely nothing to do with their employer". Employers have to careful with CRAs because they have to be mindful of employee rights. CRAs can be perceived as very intrusive and as a borderline infringement on employee rights. Employees need to feel safe in their

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