Can Bosses and Employees Be Friends?

When it comes to the relationships between bosses and employees, there is a fine line to walk. While as a boss or business owner, you do want to be friends with your coworkers and employees, you definitely want them to know that you have hiring and firing powers. Employees want to feel comfortable around the office and develop friendships with the colleagues they’ll be spending long hours with. However, both employees and bosses also want to maintain a sense of respect for the hierarchy of the office environment.

If you’re wondering can bosses and employees be friends, think about some of these factors before accepting that invitation to happy hour.

There’s no right or wrong answer.

The truth is, there’s no one right or wrong answer as far as the question of whether or not bosses and employees can be friends. While some bosses can maintain a professional relationship with their employees, it can be difficult to navigate the line between socializing, and behaving in an irresponsible or unprofessional manner. If things stay professional, it can work. If it gets too informal, that could cause an issue down the line.

Motivation matters.

If a boss and employee begin to develop a natural repertoire and discover that they share similar interests, they may have a natural inclination towards forming a friendship or a bond. Yay!

However, employees may be interested in becoming friends with bosses because they are hoping to achieve a professional advantage. In this case, the line between employer-employee relationships and ethics can head into a gray area. Be sure to reconsider the reasoning behind your friendship with your boss if it has anything to do with getting an edge on the competition.

Likewise, if a boss is primarily friends with an employee because he or she enjoys the subordinate relationship, be sure to maintain a professional boundary.

Think about the overall workplace environment.

Employees and bosses can have friendly relationships, and people within the workplace will have to accept that some individuals hit it off better than others. However, an employee-boss relationship that is incredibly noticeable, or affords an employee special privileges, is not going to be viewed very favorably by other coworkers and employees. Even if there is no potential of your relationship affecting your raise or performance feedback, be aware of the fact that your coworkers are likely noting your special relationship, and assuming that it comes with special privileges.

It’s not impossible for employees and bosses to be friends, but it is important to consider the factors that come into play. Don’t take advantage of your relationship to gain professional rewards, be aware of the way that coworkers view your relationship, and you should be fine!


Scroll to Top