In the workplace, there are many different obstacles and trials to confront and overcome. One of these is human nature. Sure, we can say we're professional. We can act that way, dress that way. But beneath the surface of that smiling suit is a person. A person with emotions, desires, and ideas. Should your employee be your friend? As an owner, no. Should they just be another expendable asset in a spreadsheet? Absolutely not. Balance is key.
I hear too many stories about hundreds of people being laid off en masse from a huge company. Hell, way back when, I received a pink slip along with five thousand other hardworking people because the company I worked for decided to outsource all of our jobs. And there's my problem, right there. I understand that there is a company to maintain and sustain. But people are alive. They have feelings, they can be hurt. They can feel neglected, or used.
See? They're seen just as assets. Expendables. This is just wrong. I'm sorry, but it is. Now don't get me wrong. If an employee is not doing his/her job, you should consider giving them the axe, but there are right ways and wrong ways to go about doing it.
Then there's the other hand. Employees as best friends. Employers playing favorites, getting comfortable. There is no pulling back once you have made the plunge from employee to friend, especially if you share company/personal secrets with him or her. Most employees? I don't think they would hold sensitive information against you, but. Some will. Period. Once a boss becomes too personable, they lose authority, and are easily written off. I've seen it firsthand! As they lose authority, they lose respect, and then? Well. Do you really need to know what's next?
Balance is key. The maintenance and health of a business is very important- not only to you but to your employees too. Whether they wanted to or not, they are working at your establishment, your business. But they are not robots. They are people. And should be treated with respect. That's the key. Respect is a finite commodity. It ebbs and flows with society, and it also changes on the fly in everyday situations.
Friendship is…difficult in business, especially when defining the boundaries of employee/employer relationships, but a surefire thing that everyone recognizes is respect. Have respect for yourself and your business first, and everything else that revolves around these two very important items should start to settle into their proper perspectives.