Guideline #8: Online “Friending” Should be Voluntary
Just as we should maintain boundaries of propriety in patient-provider relationships, so should we in employee/supervisor interactions. Guideline number eight addresses this issue:
Mayo Clinic discourages staff in management/supervisory roles from initiating “friend” requests with employees they manage. Managers/supervisors may accept friend requests if initiated by the employee, and if the manager/supervisor does not believe it will negatively impact the work relationship.
In this guideline we seek to prevent possible feelings of coercion in online relationships. A supervisor inviting an employee to connect on Facebook could put the employee in an awkward situation. Employee “friend” requests of supervisors don’t seem to carry the same potentially coercive baggage.
Just as guideline seven facilitates graceful declination of patient and family friend requests, employees can point to this one if receiving supervisor requests.
Of course there’s nothing wrong with continuing workplace friendships online and can, in fact, contribute to team cohesion. But online connections need to be completely voluntary.
Mayo Clinic offers a helpful alternative in Yammer, our officially recognized workplace social network. Many work teams find it helpful for sharing resources and collaborating, as well as real-time conversation.