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Friendship Problems at Work

The potential benefits of friendships at work are not hard to understand such as better working relationships between work colleagues and a greater level of trust and understanding. But just as there are benefits, there can be potential costs, too, thus, it is important to carefully manage friendships in a work environment.

One of the major problems with friendships at work is that it often becomes a challenge to separate professional relationship from friendship and this is, especially, an issue when one individual may be promoted and becomes responsible for overseeing the work of his/her former colleagues. His/her former colleagues may resent him/her and it may also be difficult for the new boss to be taken seriously. Another problem may arise from friendships that turn sour and negatively affect workplace morale.

Workplace friendships may also lead to the problem of free-riding in which some workers do less work and force their friends to take more workload. Similarly, objective feedback may also become a challenge since it is difficult for workers to give unbiased opinions on colleagues who are also friends.

Friendships at work also increase the risk of an embarrassing secret being revealed. Friends often share personal secrets with each other which may get out, either unintentionally or intentionally, and could seriously jeopardize the reputation and even promotion prospects of the victim. The risk of intentional leak is, especially, higher when friendships turn sour or personal interests such as promotion are at stake.

Thus, it is clear friendship at work doesn’t come without risks if there are potential benefits such as greater work productivity and higher company profitability. It is important to draw a clear line between personal and professional relationships so as to reap the benefits of workplace friendship but reduce the risk of potential costs