Just like the age-old debate if romance in the workplace is a good idea, does the same question hold true for friendships at work? Are close friendships at work a good idea?

The answer is a very wishy-washy “maybe.”

Workplaces are truly one of the best places to develop friendships. After all, you’re working with the same group of people for hours a day. Generally you have the same interests and nurses are in the same industry. And if your work culture is supportive enough. forming tight bonds in such a high-pressured environment fosters the feeling that someone’s got your back.

But friendships in a work environment can cause some trouble all on their own. Here are a few things to consider.

Should you recommend a friend for a job where you work?

Don’t recommend a friend for an open job unless you know he or she is a reliable, dependable, and honest worker. Lots of people face this dilemma. Your best friend who you love to go to clubs with or who you love to run with might tell you some of her own work issues. Has her boss called her out for constantly being late or for chart errors? Do you know she might mouth off to a colleague because of her short temper? You have to assess a friend honestly when it comes to work. Only recommend those who you know would do the best job possible.

What if you both go for the same promotion?

This happens all the time, but that doesn’t make it easy. If you and a friend who is also a coworker apply for the same promotion or higher level position, one of you is probably going to come out on the losing end. Have an open discussion about it before any final job offers are made and try to remain both neutral and supportive. Deal with the disappointment honestly on both sides, but recognize this could also put a strain on your friendship for a while.

See also
Going Back to School for RN to BSN? Key Points to Consider

What if your coworker/friend asks you to cover for a mistake?

A friend at work messed up and has asked you to cover for him. He doesn’t want anyone to know, and you realize no one was hurt. But someone could have been. What do you do? As a friend, you want to help out, but your career as a nurse wins on this one. The only ethical choice is to refuse to cover for your coworker because that’s the right thing to do. Calling attention to a mistake can also sometimes present future mistakes or it could reveal a dangerous pattern. This one isn’t usually greeted with understanding, but patient safety is your top priority. And on the flip side, if anyone ever found out that you covered up an error, your integrity, and likely your job, would be called into question. That could impact your whole career, no matter if your own record is spotless.

Friendships at work can mix, but with pretty clear boundaries. If you are uncomfortable with a situation that comes up with a friend at work, it needs to be addressed. Avoiding it will probably only cause more strain, but you don’t want your own reputation questioned.

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil
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