Employee or Friend: How to Set Boundaries at Work

Is it okay to be friends with your subordinates? How to set boundaries at work?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American spends 44 hours per week or 8.8 hours per day at work. And today’s workplace culture has evolved than yesteryears when employees spent their entire lives confined in one cubicle without once learning the name of their work-neighbor. Companies have come to cultivate a culture shaped by work-friendships that are critical for employee engagement.

But, this can also leave managers or executives in a soup. How do you handle interactions with employees who report to you? Is it ok to be friends with your subordinates?

Setting Boundaries At Work – 6 Healthy Ways

A new employee is like a blank paper that needs to be filled in the early days so that they could follow a particular code of conduct during their professional period. It is therefore required to set boundaries at work so that issues at the later stage could be avoided. The following are the methods that could be deployed to set boundaries with the new employee.

set boundaries at work

setting boundaries at work


For a new employee, everything is new. Not only work, but also the co-workers, seniors, and everybody else. It is thus required to make the first impression very carefully. This is because your first impression will develop the future code of action that will be followed by the new employee. To make a strong first impression it is preferred to talk less, very concise and to the point. This will convey the message to the new employee that you are completely professional and do not like to talk on other things than job-related.


A new employee can easily be affected by the views of co-workers who may create an illusion of non-serious and insincerity among you. It is suggested that you talk to the new employee personal until a good mark and reputation of professionalism, sincerity, and dedication is created for you.


To set boundaries at work it is suggested to listen more. This could help in creating a better understanding of the skills and abilities that are possessed by the new employee which can be used to the fullest when required. Listening will also help in gaining respect for the new employee who will consider you as vital personnel in the office who listens to him. He will be able to share his issues and problems and thereby respect you as an efficient senior who could guide him in the best way possible.


To set boundaries with the new employee it is better to communicate clearly at the first meeting about your expectations and position in the company. This will alert the new employee about the kind of behavior that you expect from him and will try to showcase the highest level of professional before you. The clear communication will also help in guiding the new employee with the code of conduct that is expected at the workplace. Hence the new employee will follow first day instructions throughout his service period and ascertain that a high degree of respect and professionalism is followed at the workplace.


To set boundaries with the new employee it is better to avoid mischief and sarcasm. This would create a sense of irresponsible behavior of the new employee towards you. He may take you as a non-serious person and discontinue respecting you and following your guidelines. It is therefore suggested to focus on concrete explanations and stay concentrated on work to set a good example before new employees.


To set boundaries with the new employee, it is better not to get in-formal with the person until you know him very well. Some people take others lightly. They may show insincerity and carelessness before you. It is thus suggested that the new employees should be dealt with in a formal manner and informality should be avoided until a few months. Some level of informality can be followed in the informal meeting that may take place but there also a limited level of informal behavior is suggested. This will keep a good level of respect and fear both in the new employee who will certainly avoid talking to you about unprofessional things.

Whether you want to stay up-to-date on HR news, read in-depth insights on HR trends or find new ideas on strategy, innovation, and leadership, The HR Digest Magazine is here to suit your needs and help you stay more informed.

Jane Harper
Writer. Human resources expert and consultant. Follow @thehrdigest on Twitter

Similar Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.