How Much Socializing with Your Employees is Too Much?

Being the boss is hard enough – you’ve got to manage people, accounts, business relationships, and money. But perhaps the worst thing about leading a team is the expectation of building bonds with your employees. How much socializing with your employees is too much?

It’s an age-old question that’s becoming increasingly difficult to answer in today’s world of social media and smartphones. The employee/supervisor relationship is becoming a gray area and it’s more important than ever before to set boundaries and know your limits. Here are a few helpful hints on staying out of trouble while staying in your employee’s good graces.

Step 1: Accept that you’ll always be the boss.
It’s tempting to want to be as chummy as possible with your employees, particularly if you’re the same age. Beginning day one of your new role as boss, though, it’s crucial to remember that you’ll always be the boss. No amount of socializing or corporate bonding will remove the intangible line that separates you from your underlings.

Step 2: Create specific boundaries for yourself.
These boundaries don’t have to be public knowledge, but you should have a plan so you know when you’re crossing a line. For example, maybe it’s a good idea to avoid any phone (text or speak) contact with employees after-hours and stick to email instead. Knowing the limits beforehand helps you stick to your guns.

Step 3: Arrange acceptable social functions on a regular basis.
The best way to keep your employees on a friendly basis with you and with each other while avoiding clandestine office hookups is to sponsor regular events for your team. Consider a regular happy hour or maybe a company-paid lunch. Whatever it is, keep the alcohol in check and leave before your employees do to show you want to keep it professional.

Step 4: Don’t talk about work outside of work.
What gets managers in trouble is the blurry line between boss and buddy. Even if you hit it off with a coworker as a friend it’s crucial to leave the office at the office. Hanging out socially is fine but there should be a very clear definition between work and after-hours.

Step 5: Be open and upfront.
Maybe you’ve fallen for one of your employees (it happens – over 37% of people report having at least one office romance) or perhaps you’ve noticed one of your workers is having personal issues. The sooner you bring in someone from HR or even your own boss or colleague the more on the up-and-up you look – secrets are always the downfall of a disgraced manager. If you feel you want to start a romantic relationship with an employee something has to change. One of you needs to be transferred to another department or leave the workplace as this presents an unacceptable conflict of interest.

Any other tips for keeping it kosher at the office? Being a boss is tough and there are a lot of expectations when it comes to behavior. Whether or not you mean to you’re always going to end up in an awkward situation eventually. The key is what you do when you get there…

About the author

Ryan is a Product Manager at, with 5 years experience in online marketing and product development.  In addition to web related businesses, he also enjoys the latest news and information on emerging technologies and open source projects.   


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