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Five Reasons Why You Shouldn't Employ Your Friends

Don't employ your friends!

Don't employ your friends!

So, You've Become Management

So, you’ve landed a great job. Either you’re in management now, or you’ve started your own business. Do you trust your employees? Do they trust you? Perhaps your employees were happy with the ways things were and believe that you’re here to upset the apple cart. Or, perhaps they just don’t think you’re a very good manager.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a couple of allies about the place? You know that a couple of your friends are not happy at work. Maybe you should offer them a job. You get along well; you see eye-to-eye. Plus, it’ll feel great to be able to give your friend a job!

Hold that thought! Having experienced workplaces where the management has actively recruited friends, and in one case, even his girlfriend, I can tell you that this could be a very bad idea. Sure, for some, it may work well; as long as your friend has the skill set needed for the job, and you have mutual respect as colleagues, not as friends, during office hours. However, based on my observations, there are five good reasons why you shouldn’t employ your friends

1. Boundaries

Are you friends or colleagues? Can you and your pal handle a boss/employee relationship? You don’t want your other staff, the ones you are desperately trying to win over and gain their respect, to hear about your drunken antics and other sorry tales your friend has to tell. Also, you will know stuff that is supposed to confidential. After a couple of beers, you can’t be shooting your mouth off to your amigo about his/her colleagues.

2. Giving Criticism

Being a boss means that sometimes you have to tell it how it is, and that means if someone isn’t pulling their weight, not doing their job, or doing it but doing it badly, they need to be told. Can you do this to your friend? Honestly? They’re your mate after all. Acting like their boss may change the whole dynamic of your relationship outside of work. And, as friends, you may tolerate their weaknesses/mistakes more than you would with regular employees.

3. Yes Men

There may be an implicit agreement in hiring a friend that they will sing from the same hymn sheet as you and back you up. Maybe you are having battles with your inherited or existing workforce and you hope to have someone on your side who will help you push through the changes that you want. All sounds good? Maybe there is resistance towards your ideas for good reason. Maybe your ideas are crap. Maybe having “yes men” around you will only enable you to make changes that are not good for your business.

Friends won't tell you the truth.

Friends won't tell you the truth.

4. Taking the Piss

A common problem, for a few reasons. They know you outside of the work arena. They maybe get drunk with you, tell bad jokes, chase women/men…whatever friends do! You’re not their boss, you’re their mate. He/she won’t mind if I’m late, they knew I was out partying last night. I’m here to help them out of a tight spot, they won’t mind if I sit at my desk on Facebook all afternoon. I’m doing them a favor; they can push the deadline back a little. It happens, I’ve witnessed it. The biggest problematic relationship I’ve had as a freelance writer was going through the boss’s friend. My work was done on time but the boss didn’t know that because his friend wasn’t responding to my emails in a timely fashion, and the content wasn’t making it onto the website. And who got the blame?

5. Effect on Other Employees

What do you think your other employees think about you and your friend's work relationship? Do you think it makes them happy? Or do you think they see that your friend is taking the piss and getting paid? That they are not doing their job properly but don’t get pulled up for it? Or that they are getting preferential treatment? Having lunch with the boss? It is just going to cause resentment and bad feeling. Also, it implies you are weak if you feel the need to surround yourself with allies. If you are trying to get your existing staff to respect you, this is not the way to go about it. And they will hate your friend!


The easiest way to manage to employ people you know is to not do it in the first place. Keep your friendship outside of work and you may keep your friends and your professional integrity.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2016 lesley hayes