Ask a Millennial: Does Your Boss Really Have to Be Your BFF?

With millennial employees now ascendant in workplaces across the land, managers are grappling with how to hire, retain and engage them. In our new continuing series, Anna Fitzpatrick answers our burning questions about how to approach this exotic species of office fauna.

Young employees don’t seem to understand that the office is a place for work talk, not conversations about what you do in your downtime. Do you really have to be besties with your boss?

Photo: Roberto Caruso Photo: Roberto Caruso

I mean, ideally I would like to be BFFs with everyone at work, if only for all the killer parties.

I’m not alone: A 2014 LinkedIn study found 67% of millennials—double the rate of our older counterparts—liked to share personal details with co-workers, including bosses. That openness led to better social relationships, which increased motivation and productivity.

But just because we tend to over-share doesn’t mean we want to go for tacos every night with the person paying us. I talked to Jazmine Hughes, an editor at The New York Times Magazine with whom I’ve worked closely in the past, about where to draw the line. “What I am looking for,” she said, “is an older, unofficial sounding board and mentor who can provide me support and authority, but who isn’t directly in charge of my employment.”


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