Hi All,
I am handling the role of an HR Business partner in a German Based Investment Bank in Bangalore.
Recently I have got a complain from a group of team members in a certain department during my skip level meeting with them.
Everybody in the team is extreamly unhappy with their opeation manager due to his unethical behaviour with a lady executive in his department.According to them at times they are not bothered about the surroundings in the office and they behave very intimately in the office .
I had a meeting with his Assistant Vice Preseident and came to a conclusion that he knows the entire case and also trying to be defenive about the managers.
I have been also heard that if anybody tries to interfare into their department then the business partner is immidietly removed to another section of process so that we wouldnot have any oppurtunity to interfere with them.
Please advise me as to how to handle this.I also had a chat with my boss and he seems to know the entire stuff and he too told me to avoid this case for betterment of my career.
Plz help.
Avik Roy

From India, Delhi
Dear Avik,

The incident goes on to show the important of HR policies. Do you have "Policy on Workplace Romance" well in place? If not then why you did not design it earlier? Had the policy been there, it would have helped you to handle this incident.

Secondly, how true is the saying "Boss is always right". You are talking of some foreign bank operating in Bangalore. The story is not of some industrial shade of Peenya Industrial Estate. Should I say that MNC like yours or ordinary company of India are all birds of feathers?.

You have now following options to choose:

a) If you are not worried of your job then you can take bull by its horns. Take up cudgels and talk to the couple, counsel them. If they don't heed your advice (which they will not any way), make a formal report in writing to your superior. If nothing happens then escalate the matter to further superiors of Germany. Remember an ox is taken by the horns and a man by the tongue.

b) If you are worried of your job then better to throw in the towel and keep quite. If you have told to your AVP and he is also defensive then what is the point in raising the daggers? But make it a point, if situation comes to a head then he is going to feign ignorance.

c) The third option is little coward one. Take the photographs of the intimate position of the couple. Forward it to your superiors of Germany from some dummy e-mail ID. In the mail write that what the couple does in office is open secret. Not only open secret but this is routine as well. But I doubt anything worthwhile will happen. Because from their cultural point of view, these things are not important to them.

The incident goes on to show the importance of listening skills of business leaders. Our listening skills are good when we listen what we want to listen. After all about four centuries ago Shakespeare has said "King knows what his courtiers want him to know". How the quote is true for your bosses too!


Dinesh V Divekar

From India, Bangalore
Dear Avik,
Another important thing is today's workplace romance does not become tomorrow's sexual harassment case . I have seen 1-2 cases going that way. Bring this point to the notice of your boss or AVP, though subtly.
Sometime ago this very forum had brought a case wherein it was written that love between two employees bloomed, resulted into marriage, thereafter resulted into discord. In a workplace face-off, wife filed complaint of sexual harassment against her husband!
In such cases management and other staff members always get in fix. When cases of sexual harassment come forward, higher officials always wash their hands off and HR becomes the first scapegoat - "as a HR you should know to keep tab on what's happening around".
Dinesh V Divekar

From India, Bangalore
Dear All, Thank you so much for your active participation.Am sure to get a resolution for this very soon .I will do let you know the end result of this. Regards, Avik Roy Manager-HR GENERALIST
From India, Delhi
I must commend Dinesh Divekar for his indepth comment on the issue involved and citing previous posts at CiteHr.
Even in the West, where I have worked, intimacy at work which affects other members of staff is not tolerated. Sometimes, during X'mas parties when people are not that sober people hug and kiss.
I had not come across any policy on such behaviour, as it is expected that staff would behave in an appropriate professional manner when at work.
Have a nice day.

From United Kingdom
Mr Avik Roy

I have gone through your problem and suggestion given by our collegues. Mr Dinesh V Divekar has given you a nice suggetion and I am also strongly agreeing with him. Pl keep it in your mind inspite of the matter brought to your notice, if you keep quite and do not take any intiative to takle the issue under refernce, defenately it will undermines the image of you organisation and personally for you also being an HR Generalist.

First you should bring it to the notice of your immediate boss and discuss with him about the consequences of indcipline among the staff if let you such things within the premises of office that too during office hours. After taking his opinion, then you can decide what is to be done. If necessary you should directly talk with top bosses to settle the issue.

What I feel such a nasty things should not be allowed in the office. If you do not take any action in this issue certainely it may affect the general discipline of your organisation and some other persons may take it as precedent and in such a case you cannot take any decision and action. Mere the employee who is in manager in rank doing any wrong, we cannot tolerate it.

Certainely, if you bring this issue to the notice of your top bosses, defenately they will cooperate with you in dealing with issue. First you shoul call the manager and lady executive to your chamber and tell them how such things undermine their personal image and also effect the general discipline of the organisation.

No top boss in any organisation tolerate such indiscipline in their organisation which will effects the overall perfomance and image of the organisation.




From India, Hyderabad
Is there a sexual harassment policy in your company? If yes, you could leverage your inputs from your skip level meetings with employees who have complained about the office love-birds to file a suo moto complaint and then deal accordingly with the policy's administrative procedure.

However, this is more a case of idealism vs rationality. Idealism will demand that you be true to your role which demands that you take a corrective action against any deviant behavior as a custodian of your organization's values for the benefit of your organization. However, given that your own superior as well as the business function head are both cognizant of this office romance and have decided to give a blind eye to it, you risk antagonizing your superior and your career growth prospects if you are to persist in the spirit of idealism.

The choice is yours to make depending upon your own circumstances and individual beliefs / value system. However, were you to adopt the rational approach of not going full-steam ahead to take any corrective action, as pointed out by Dinesh, do watch your back as it is very common for HR operatives to be made the scapegoat of misfeasance / malfeasance of business stars for which, their superirors share the complicity in as much as they have decided to wink an eye and decided not to do anything about it. It is not uncommon for superiors to goad you into having a verbal dialogue with them instead of anything getting documented through emails which may point to their complicity later. They will do so under the garb of verbal communication being a more effective form of communications based on trust and make you feel guilty of having put anything on records. My advice to you will be that in such a case, you should still document (through email to your boss) your findings and recommendations for some corrective action while seeking sanction / feedback from your boss on the suggested course of action. At the best, your boss will reply back to you and close the loop in which case you will be safe. If he chooses not to, your position will still be secure for the fact that you did what you were expected to do by bringing this to the attention of your boss and the culpability for not taking any action on your suggestions would then rest on him in case anyone tried to place the finger of blame on you going forward.


From India, Ghaziabad
Have you ever questioned / thought about WHY they were not asked or probed about this issue? I can empathize the frustration you are going through. This happened in my first job where my Team leader and Quality Auditor used to be so intimately close with each other, and even keep talking to each other while at work.. talking is not the word I should use here. It was more of "playful winks, smiles and sometimes hours of constatnt silence but they used to keep looking at each other from their cabins. Wierd...

The Management was aware of it, and took no actions against them because the team lead was managing a huge client who only she in the whole team could manage well. The major source of income was from that client.

So in the above case, there is a reason (becuase she was wanted, no one wanted to take a risk). However - is this the same situation with you? Would you not be able to find a person to replace the Manager? Is the work of the Manager being affected? Are the other members feeling bad to be associated with the team in India? Start from here - you will be able to think of an option.

From India, Madras
How about using the camera infrastructure available in your building to video record their intimacy , and then confront them , even if you loose job , you can go to media and get them in a soup.
From India, Bangalore
Hi All,
I had a meeting with the manager and the lady executive along with my Vice President - HR Business Partner.
We have issued a memo to the manager and later on he admitted that he did a serious mistake by not adhering to the company policy .
We have also mentioned in the memo that if he is found to repeat the same activity in the office premises, he would be terminated right away and it has been duly signed by his super boss too.
As far as the lady executive is concerned we have counselled her and she would like to shift to a new process hereafter.
We have decided to conduct a briefing session with all the employees regarding Compliance policy next week in order to make all the employees aware that our company doesnot tolerate any kind of anti complaince actvities.
Kind Regards,
Avik Roy
Manager -HR Generalist.

From India, Delhi

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