Can you be friends with your employees?

Should you be friends with your employees?


Imagine this – you log onto your Facebook page at the end of a long day at work and you’re surprised to see an icon lit up. One friend request. You eagerly click the link to find out who is interested in conversing with you via social media…

It’s your employee.

What do you do in this situation? Happily hit yes? Or quickly click ignore?

Whether or not employees and managers can be friends has long been under debate. Experts from around the world have chimed in, offering their opinions and insights into the matter.

Basically, the ability to be friends with your employees may vary between organisations. Larger, more professional businesses may have policies against it, while smaller, tight-knit enterprises may encourage close relationships between staff.

If you’re staring at the friend request notification and are unsure what to do, here are few pointers on each side of the argument:

Reasons against:

Being friends with your employees can be tough depending on your level of authority.

If you may one day be the one holding the axe over their head, you could struggle to let it fall if the employee under the blade is a friend.

Another risk is allowing the team to treat you as an equal. It can be difficult to assert yourself as a leader if your friend-employees treat you the same way they treat their pals.

However, this can easily be remedied with assertiveness skills training. Undertaking an official course to increase your influence and communications can help you become an effective manager without damaging relationships.

Reasons for:

Employee engagement is something most businesses struggle with every day. By employing people you consider friends you can more easily engage them in their work. A post by the Harvard Business Review revealed that workers are happier when they have friendships with their co-workers.

When you promote a culture of friendship at work, your team could find their job is more fun, enjoyable and satisfying. Gallup reports that close work friendships can improve employee satisfaction by 50 per cent.

It is therefore easy to see why hitting accept to your employee’s friend request may not be a bad idea – just make sure you hide those pictures from last week’s party first!

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