Blurring the client-employee relationship?

Not sure how to maintain a professional working relationship?

This month we received a very interesting question from one of our clients in the care sector regarding working relationships with clients and service users and how friendly is “too friendly”.

While it is true to say that it is key to develop relationships with service users it is also crucial to acknowledge where professional boundaries begin and how these could become unclear. Hence, in order to protect the business from a conflict of interest with the service user caused by an employee (often unintentionally) becoming over-friendly, we advise establishing clear policies and guidance to clearly communicate those boundaries.

Often—and especially within the care sector—friendships develop between an employee and service user. This is because empathy and a humanistic approach is high in the care industry. The problem occurs when the boundaries are blurred, people become unsure what their roles are, and question whether they are working within their job profile or if they are going above and beyond which could be misconstrued.

An employer needs to ensure each employee is aware of the difference between being ‘friendly’ and being ‘friends’ and how to maintain professional distance.

Furthermore, an interpersonal relationship could give rise to a number of negative consequences, like the question of safeguarding clients with special needs that could potentially put the safety of the employee in danger, as well as favoritism, or the breach of confidentiality and trust during discussions conducted in a home environment. In short, interpersonal relationships should be avoided.

Need help writing a memo to a ‘confused’ employee? Contact a DLP adviser today: we’re here for you.

Should you have any questions feel free to reach out to our help line. DLP advisers are available to answer any questions you may have—24 hours a day—at 0330 400 4454.

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