Can You Be Friends With Your HR? A Tricky Affair

Things you should know before you start your career as HR … ever got this feeling? If your answer is yes, then you must also have thought about workplace friendships.

Not to worry, as you are not hotfooting alone, as a lot of HR folks tend to ask the question: should HR have friends at work?

Now for an HR, it is imperative to develop bonds with employees and gain their trust. This begins with developing as well as sustaining healthy relationships whilst helping employees navigate relationships both outside and inside of the workplace, since HR is mainly about people, isn’t it! However, it is also about good ethical practice, which includes avoiding bias and maintaining confidentiality so that employees can confide in them.

On the other hand, employees often perceive HR as an entity that works in the favour of company only and nothing else. Whereas, the truth is nowhere near this disbelief that people tend to have about HR. In fact, HR as we all know is the first point of contact for any employee and their goal is to help employees develop skills and guide them through complex workplace situations such as workplace discrimination, harassment, etc.

The question remains: can you be friends with your HR? Let’s find out below:

If you start to get along with your HR, remember a few things.

Understand that HR knows the policies and processes in and out. You might have forgot about that career development workshop or your healthcare claim benefit, but you can never miss it if you have a good rapport with your HR.

If you get a feeling that HR is holding back something from you, it may be purely because they simply can’t play favourites. Thus, make sure that anything you talk to your colleagues ought to be purely common knowledge. On the other hand, HR professionals often tend to be guarded around their employees, since they ought to be careful of what they say during those casual chats around the coffee machine.

If your organisation is the one with tightly controlled work environment wherein it is critical to keep interpersonal risks at bay, then any kind of bias on the part of HR such as friendships can lead to fatal outcomes for both the organisation as well as its employees.

Try to build a diplomatic and trustworthy network with all the external as well as internal stakeholders and not just a selected few. Avoid forming emotionally close ties with HR. In case you have close ties with your HR manager, keep away from situations that could possibly be viewed as conflicts due to favouritism.

Few pointers for HR:

As HR, make sure to gel in with everyone in order to clear the air of favouritism, if any. For in case you make close bonds with a few and any issue comes up pertaining to performance or appraisal, then it is advisable to inform your senior about the conflict. Mind your words and avoid work discussions as much as possible.

Keep away from gossiping, since being fair and neutral makes HR the real ‘HERO’. Never let go the human touch from human resources, as only then employees will relate to you and approach you.


Now for the CXOs, it is imperative to lay down policies and processes in place that promote friendships at work. Unfortunately, HR departments in most of the companies are isolated, often on some other floor and are only consulted when required or things go out of hand.

HR ought to view organisational policies and culture from the perspective of both the employees as well as organisation. Here, finding the right balance ensures that all the employees are treated with due respect and fairness whilst keeping away legal risks.

As an employee who intends to have friends at workplace, you may find yourself in an awkward position. You are aware that friendship leads to engagement, but you also cannot overlook the fact that maintaining close ties would be viewed as partial and bias.

Got something interesting to share, feel to share the same in the comments below


Anwar Shaikh writes about employee engagement, career advice, startups, human resources, cloud, analytics and more. A self-trained writer, Anwar writes for Pocket HRMS, a leading provider of cloud based HR software with built-in HR chatbot named smHRty.

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