Having strong relations with your employees is good for the company, but sometimes you need to know where to draw the line. The benefits of forming close bonds with your staff are as varied as the setbacks, and we want to give you some insight into them so that you know how to approach such a relationship in the future.

It has its pros…

A good connection between employer and employee will always be better than a bad one.

If you develop a strong bond with your staff then they’re likely to stay with the company because the environment is a lot more enjoyable for them to be in. One survey found that 75% of workers who felt they’d formed a strong friendship in the workplace planned to stay in their job for at least another year, signifying that good relationships can be important for reducing employee turnover.

They can also be good for preventing excessive stress in the workplace which employers are particularly influential in causing. Being around friends makes people feel a lot more comfortable and reduces the fear of expressing their feelings and being honest about problems they may have. Employees that are fearful of their boss are likely to agree to things without question and refrain from asking for help, even if it means they struggle to get their work done. However, if you take the time to form a relationship with your staff then they’re likely to speak up when there’s an issue and provide criticism when they think it’s relevant.

Just because you’re the person in charge, it doesn’t mean that you can’t do with a bit of feedback every now and again.

…but also its cons

We’ve looked before at how beneficial friendships between colleagues can be, but even these have their fair share of downsides, especially when things turn sour.

No matter how hard you try, chances are you’ll never make friends with all of your employees. Even if you manage to form a bond with everyone, there will be some people that you’ll naturally gravitate towards and make stronger friendships with. Unfortunately for you, that can cause a lot of issues amongst your staff.

The question of favouritism will almost certainly be raised and can cause tension in the office as employees question whether your actions are influenced by performance or personal reasons. Unless you’re friends with 100% of your workforce, there will always be someone there to doubt the decisions you make.

To make matters worse, even if you are friends with everyone, when it comes time to make a difficult choice, someone’s going to get upset. In the office, work must always come first and if someone isn’t performing to their best ability or asks for something you don’t think they deserve, it’s your job as the boss to do what’s best for the company. Friendships in this environment can only cause complications when one party is in a higher position than the other.

There’s even an increased likelihood of employee behaviour leading to these kinds of difficult decisions when they’re friends with you. People who are good friends with their employer may not feel the need to follow every order they make, or might assume they can get away with more because of their connection. When situations like this start to happen, you have to question whether you’re still in charge of a professional place of work or not.

As it stands, having a friendship with your employees is not the way forward if you wish to avoid causing major problems amongst your workforce. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make an effort to make strong connections when at work, but outside of the office you should refrain from involving employees in your personal life; it’ll benefit you in the long run.

James Darvill

James is a passionate scriptwriter and reluctant poet with a talent for the dystopian. When he’s not staying up late watching the Simpsons he’s beating the world at Mario Kart, always with a glass of wine in hand.
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