Should you be Facebook friends with your employees?

There are a ton of challenges that come hand-in-hand with employing a team of staff;

Ensuring that productivity is high and that you’re getting a good return on your staffing investment.

Keeping up to date with performance reviews.

Staying on the right side of employment legislation.

And the tricky question of whether you should accept that friend request that you just received on Facebook from your team member? Granted, in the grand scheme of things, this is hardly the kind of challenge that should keep you awake at night.

But as we move into a heavily digital era that relies more and more on technology to connect and communicate, it’s a day-to-day issue that a lot of leaders are likely to face at some point or another.

First of all, it’s worth noting that there are no hard and fast rules here. There are no laws that exist that tell you that you can’t have your staff on your friends list, and there are none that say that you should welcome them into your digital world with open arms.

For every leader that tells you that it’s a bad idea that you should definitely avoid at all costs, for a whole host of legitimate reasons, there’s another that has done the opposite very successfully, and will tell you why that it’s an approach that you should take too.

Ultimately, the decision comes down to you. Your business. Your friend list. Your rules.  There are a few important considerations to make though…

When you’re connected with an employee on social media, you’re likely to find out more about them. How they like to spend their weekends. What they eat for dinner. And possibly even more contentious factors such as their religious beliefs and political affiliations. If problems occur further down the line at work, and they’re dealt with in accordance with disciplinary proceedings, then there’s a chance that it could be claimed that it was because of the information shared on Facebook.

As well, if you’re friends with certain employees and not others, this could lead to accusations of favouritism. Equally, you can’t force your staff to be connected with you outside of work, and there are probably people on your team who can think of nothing worse than receiving a friend request from you. If they prefer to keep their personal lives private, then you’ve put them in a very awkward situation.

And finally, you should never use a social platform to communicate about work-related matters. Respect your employees’ spare time, don’t blur the lines between work and play, and keep the confidentiality of office issues in mind.

Are you open to the idea of having your employees on your friend list, or do you think that it’s an HR disaster waiting to happen?