10 Things You Should Never Do With Your Employees

The employer-employee relationship can be a minefield of dangerous faux pas. Avoid these 10 situations to make sure you never cross the line.
June 21, 2013

After spending day in and day out with your employees, it's easy to think of them as more than just employees. However, that thinking can be the downfall of your business. To have an effective team, some rules are not meant to be broken—and when they are, big problems usually follow. Avoid trouble, loss of productivity and lawsuits by never, ever doing the following 10 things with your employees.

Date. Don’t date employees. Period. Many people ignore this advice. What may seem like a harmless thing at the time is a really bad idea, especially when you break up with them. While this may bring short-term joy, the pain can last for a long time.

Get drunk. It can start out as one drink, but for some people, it can get out of control. Both employers and employees say and do things when they drink that they would never do otherwise. Too much alcohol never mixes with a profitable business.

Share a hotel room. Things are more complicated these days. Sexual harassment is one of the most common allegations employees make. Never be in a totally private place with any employee.

RELATED: 5 Reasons Employees Hate Their Bosses

Go to the movies. It might seem like less of a landmine than sharing a hotel room, but going to the movies with an employee is a bad idea. I had to fire an employee who had gone to the movies with my business partner. She made untrue allegations about his behavior at the movie, and even though they were untrue, we still had to pay a settlement. Again, stick to semi-private but open places for important conversations, like your office, hotel lobbies or restaurants.

Gossip. Talking behind the backs of other employees can destroy bonds of trust. It is no one’s business what you think of their fellow employee. Be especially careful not to share confidential information about their peers.

Publicly embarrass anyone. You can accomplish a lot more with rewards than with threats. Humiliating people in front of their peers only breeds long-term resentment and is never motivating. You don't want to build a culture of fear instead of trust.

Make negative or "funny" comments on their social media posts. This can be easily misunderstood as another form of public embarrassment. Motivations behind emoticons and text slang can often be misunderstood.

RELATED: Is Your Micromanaging Killing Office Morale

Personally confide in them. This includes sharing non-public details about your professional and personal life. You might share information that an employee could use later against you. If you need support for personal ups and downs, find someone outside of work.

Ask them to lie. Asking an employee to lie personally or professionally is a ticking time bomb. This will always put you in a weaker position later with that employee.

Comment on their appearance, age or other personal details. Again, these types of comments are easily misunderstood. There are myriad human resources rules that can easily be broken. Avoid these landmines by just not saying anything. 

Ask them to run personal errands. This is true even if they are your “personal” assistants. Asking them to run personal errands blurs the distinction between business and personal life. The work they personally do for you could have tax consequences.

Read more articles on leadership.

Photos: Think stock