Organizing Relationships Traditional and Emerging Perspectives on Workplace Relationships

Business ethics

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         One of the issues that have raised concerns in business nowadays is the relationship between senior employees, and the junior employees of the opposite sex. For years, senior employees such as managers and directors have been accused of sexually or emotionally abusing the junior employees working under them. Some are even accused of threatening to dismiss the employees who decline their request for sexual favors from them. Though this may be seen as sexual harassment, the case might be something different from that. Simply because the relationship is between senior and a junior employee, it may not be right to rush to a conclusion that the boss is sexually or emotionally exploiting their subject. It may be a relationship that has developed naturally due to the level of intimacy of the two employees of the opposite gender.

       The controversial nature of this issue is clearly portrayed in the mail online article of November 13th, 2013. The article explains that the report of a study carried out by business week has shown that most of these relationships between employees have nothing to do with harassment. During the survey, it was found out that most of the people working in the offices would be up to a sexual relationship with someone from their office if they got the chance. Of the 2500 respondents interviewed during the survey, 85 percent said it was right for employees within the company to be allowed to have sexual relationships. Some even confessed of sexually admiring their coworkers. After all this, why does the Human Resource department discourage intimate relationships between their employees of opposite gender? The answer is that they conclude that one of the parties in the relationship is sexually harassed, especially if one of the parties is the boss of the other.

          Some people may accuse me of supporting the behavior of the bosses to engage in sexual relationships with their colleagues. But if we consider some working conditions in some organizations, we see that the relations originate absolutely from intimacy and not harassment. Consider the case of a male manager, who works with a lady as the personal secretary. It is very possible for the two to engage in an affair due to the intimacy created by the working conditions. The two attend meetings together, go for lunch together, spend time together in the office, sometimes they go together to attend meetings far from their place of work, and many other closely spent times. From all these close relation, is it not against the laws of nature for something more than boss-secretary relationship to happen? Ironically, when a relationship develops between the manager and his secretary, the manager will be accused of sexually harassing the secretary! In my opinion, the boss would be emotionally harassing the secretary if he chose to ignore the feelings that develop after been together almost all the time.

         It may also be arguable that boss-subject relationships may adversely affect the performance of the employees. Employees may be reluctant in their work simply because the boss, who is supposed to supervise their work, can not condemn them because of the existing bond. This may be the idea behind the fight by the human resource department against sexual relationships at the workplace. However, this may not always be the case. This relationship may boost the performance of an employee who will always be trying to be the best to impress the boss. The article workplace relationships on Wikipedia explain of a theory, Workplace Relationship Quality and information Experiences, which originated from a study conducted by Patricia Sias. The theory states the most productive employees are the ones with high access to information about their workplace. It is obvious that the employees with a relationship more than the ordinary workplace relationship have a higher access to business information. I may, therefore, be right to say that the boss-subject relationships can play an important part in boosting the productivity of the employees. The article further describes relationships at the workplace as “workplace romance”. It explains that though these relationships may not make the workplace so comfortable for other employees; it plays a very important part in the working of the parties involved in the affair. It increases performance due to high motivation and overall job satisfaction.

         Even though some senior employees in some business organization sexually exploit their junior colleagues, let us not mistake every relationship for sexual exploitation or harassment. It is good to appreciate that these bosses and their subjects are just ordinary people and what makes their difference is only the working position and titles. When there is a relationship between two junior employees of opposite gender, this is taken to be an ordinary love relationship. Why then do we have to treat the seniors differently? Aren’t they the same as the juniors? What marks the difference is only job level. It is, therefore, necessary to analyze the situation before concluding that a boss is sexually harassing a junior workmate.


Sias, P. M. (2009). Organizing relationships traditional and emerging perspectives on workplace relationships. Los Angeles: SAGE.


Sias, P. M. (2008). Organizing Relationships Traditional and Emerging Perspectives on Workplace Relationships.. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications. (

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