Human Resources and friendship have a complicated relationship. If you come from a more corporate environment, you may be thinking that HR professionals should keep employees at arm’s length. On the other hand, a more informal environment like a tech or start-up company may view HR as just another one of the crew. So, what’s the right choice? Should HR make friends at work… and how?
The answer is… there is no one answer that’s right for everyone. At PerkSpot, one of our core values is “We Value People”. Our culture naturally lends itself to a strong sense of community, so for us, the answer is yes. However, we know this may not work for everyone and that’s ok, too.
If you’re an HR professional thinking about embarking on friendships at work, here are three main things to keep in mind:
• Choose Your Friends Wisely
• Don’t Play Favorites
• Know Your Culture
Make Friends, but Make Them Wisely
HR can absolutely make friends at work, but these may not look like the best friends you’ve had all your life. Work friends generally know a little bit about you, but they aren’t the ones you’d call up when something goes terribly wrong. They may even be more of an acquaintance than an actual friend. However, finding someone who shares similar interests, that makes you laugh, and all-in-all makes work more enjoyable is extremely valuable for all employees, and HR is no exception.
Make Friends, but Treat Everyone the Same
One of the dangers HR can run into when having friends at work is being accused of favoritism or bias. It’s important that even if you “click” with someone at work, you treat others fairly and kindly. You should make each employee feel valued in their own way. It’s only natural to connect with some more than others. However, that should never affect how you interact with them professionally.
Make Friends, but Know Your Culture
Every workplace is different so it’s important to know what’s appropriate for your office. At PerkSpot, we are fairly casual so it would be of no surprise to see our head of HR mingling with a beer during our Friday afternoon cheers. This is appropriate because it’s a part of our culture and helps to create an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect. However, this is unique to PerkSpot and one size definitely does not fit all. Find ways to gain the trust and respect of your coworkers in a way that’s appropriate to your culture.
Do you think HR should make friends at work? We’d love to hear what you think!