Comment of the week: Should HR professionals avoid making friends at work?

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Do you make friends at work as an HR professional, or does it compromise your authority? That’s the question we put to readers some weeks ago.

In the piece, HR training expert Timothy Holden said HR risks allegations of nepotism if they get too close to certain staff members. He asked how harsh decisions like lay-offs could be made in the face of personal friendships.

“Teamwork may become more difficult, grievances may be generated and bad behaviour may become the norm,” Holden said. “This could impact on absenteeism, staff turnover rates and customer service.”

Responses have varied across the spectrum, and we’d be curious to hear more from commenter Sophie, who seems to have a tale to tell.

From experience, yes. It only leads to trouble further down the line – Sophie

But Dave was quick to oppose the idea that HR should isolate themselves.

That's absurd. HR professionals are human and are entitled to make friends like everyone else. Not having any work friends is a good way for a HR professional to be judged a poor fit and not a team player. – Dave

Is there a happy medium? According to one masked HR professional, it’s a matter of discernment.

Sometimes, but it depends on how well you can manage people in a difficult situation, friend or not. Delivering bad news is never easy, sometimes it helps if you know the person well and sometimes not. There’s no yes or no answer – Just HR

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