Should HR Have Facebook Friends at Work – Ask HR Bartender

by Sharlyn Lauby on July 12, 2012

Here’s a question that I’ve asked myself before. So after a reader asked me about it, I wanted to share it with you:

I’m an HR Manager for a small company. Because of that, stronger relationships have formed, leading employees to send me friend requests on Facebook.

Here’s my question…I know there’s a lot of discussion about social media in the workplace, so what is your opinion about being “friends” with your staff? Do you have a previous article that I’ve overlooked on this topic?

I have written before about Facebook friending and developing friendships at work. I wish I could say there are hard and fast rules where this is concerned. But there’s not. Each person has to decide what’s best for them on social media. This isn’t just for HR pros, but anyone using social media.

I still think it’s a touchy subject for HR pros and it really boils down to the maturity of the relationship. It could be very weird to friend an employee who later needs performance coaching or discipline. Or uncomfortable to see a colleague’s latest splurge knowing that a layoff is coming.

On the other hand, I can see where friending a co-worker can demonstrate a level of transparency. Especially in human resources. Often HR is considered a keeper of company secrets and when employees figure out HR is just as human as everyone else, it can really benefit the working relationship.

An article in Training Magazine said that younger employees are more likely to friend their supervisor and believe that doing so can help them be more effective at work. You can check out the research on “How Facebook is Changing the Supervisory Relationship” here.

I also found an interesting survey on ZD Net that shows 1 in 5 employees are friends with their boss on Facebook. 46% say they friended their boss while 38% say their boss friended them. So an action we might have initially considered as being workplace taboo – friending the boss – might not be as unthought-of as we originally presumed.

I wonder if this research about friending the boss applies to HR. What do you think? Would you become a Facebook friend with someone in your HR department?

Thanks for participating in the poll! If you have any other thoughts on this topic, please feel free to share them in the comments. I’ll post the results in a week or so.

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