Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Should your boss be your Facebook friend?

In this photo illustration, a Facebook logo on a computer screen is seen through glasses held by a woman in Bern May 19, 2012.

Thomas Hodel/REUTERS

You post pictures of your cat, your holiday photos and updates about your daily life on Facebook. Do you really want your boss to see them?

According to The Washington Post, a poll of about 1,000 online respondents revealed more than 20 per cent are Facebook friends with their work supervisors.

The survey showed a distinct generational gap in how young workers and older workers felt about befriending their bosses on the social-media site.

Story continues below advertisement

More than 70 per cent of employees, ages 18 to 34, said they had no hesitations, while employees between 35 and 54 were more inclined to think it is "inappropriate," The Washington Post reported.

It seems the younger set, having grown up with social media, see Facebook as merely a natural extension of their social and professional networking tools. (Just take a look at the profiles of your younger Facebook contacts. Chances are they have hundreds, if not thousands, of online "friends." Adding their bosses to the mix may seem like no big deal.)

But the trend goes beyond cyberspace. As Globe contributor Kate Carraway recently pointed out, changes to the traditional workplace culture – including fluid schedules and people moving more quickly between jobs – mean relationships between employers and employees have become less formal. As a consequence, it may not be unusual for bosses and their employees to actually hang out together.

Carraway says workplace friendliness not only makes the workday more pleasant, it can even increase productivity. But when it comes to disciplining your friend/employee, things can get tricky.

As Claire Suddath of Bloomberg Businessweek wrote, not all friendships are created equally, and the trick is to draw your own boundaries. Unfortunately, on Facebook, you're pretty much limited to categorizing your contacts as "close friends" or "acquaintances." So regardless of whether it's your boss or your grandmother you're adding as a friend, it's probably wise to avoid posting anything about your wild weekend in Vegas. "There are work friends and after-work friends. There are friends with whom you'll discuss your love life, friends you approach for favours, friends you drunk-dial, and friends you'll invite into your home even when you haven't showered and you're wearing pajamas," Suddath wrote. "Call me old-fashioned, but I just don't want to watch a Will Ferrell movie and eat Chinese takeout with someone who could fire me."

Are you friends with your boss on Facebook?

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author

Wency Leung is a general assignment reporter for the Life section. Before joining The Globe in early 2010, she has worked as a reporter in Vancouver, Prague, and Phnom Penh. More


The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨