Navigating Friendship In the Workplace As an HR Pro

navigating friendship in the workplace as an hr pro

Yikes, I’m sure that title scared a few HR Pros.

Friendship is an essential part of life. Some people don’t have a family, but they do have friends. Friendship in the workplace has always been a delicate subject. When we allow people to cross that barrier we’ve created in all of those stacks of paperwork, we panic.

Navigating Friendship In the Workplace As an HR Pro


Is it possible to be a manager and still have coworkers that you’re friends with? I believe so. As a team member at a previous job, I had two really good work relationships that grew into great friendships that continue even to this day. When I became a manager, we did have difficult days. They had to understand that it was now my job to manage them and I had to understand that everything I knew, they didn’t need to know too. But we got through it.

Is it possible to be a part of the HR Department and still have friendships within your organization? I’m not sure. Being a manager and having friends is hard enough. Adding the role of HR… that seems even more challenging. For one thing, there are some things in your personal life that even your HR professional does not want to find out about. I’m sure there a lot of HR pros who have genuine friendships with coworkers, someone on their “level,” but what about friendships with the frontline team members, can this be successful?

The employees who work hard at trusting the HR department because of the secrets we keep are the toughest to get through to. They might not look at us the same if we’re going out with their coworkers. And when you’re a new HR professional, gaining team members’ trust is the first step to having them accept you, your solutions, your ethics, and your responses to problems in the company. Then there are conflict of interest situations. Are you willing to excuse yourself from situations that won’t be best for you to witness? Are your friends willing to accept your disciplining them?

Quality friendships require a lot of give and take from both sides, and as an HR Professional, there isn’t a lot of giving when it comes to policies and procedures of your organization, just because someone is a friend. Friendships are a major part of life, but when it comes to work friendships, it is important that we consider the less pleasant angles.

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Jazmine Wilkes

Proud millennial human resource leader focused on sharing HR insights, learnings and resources. Sharer of memes. Author of HRJazzy. Connect with her on LinkedIn.


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