Developing Your Relationship With Your Employer


Young man with Down's Syndrome with support worker, arms around each other, looking to camera

This is going to be a key factor in you enjoying your job and also in wanting to keep going in your job.

While you can’t necessarily predict what kind of person your employer is, you can decide yourself how you are going to behave. Having personal boundaries in place is a necessary first step. You want to be open and friendly with your employer, but they are not going to be your best friend that you confide in; nor are you expected to solve any problems they may have. On paper, this sounds a bit harsh but you are not necessarily there to solve problems, rather to support the person to solve their own problems. You are also not there to offload your own problems onto your employer, so it’s necessary to be professional in your approach.

Having a non-confrontational approach will be helpful in maintaining a smooth relationship. Some actions or comments are not meant to be taken personally but even if they are, you can choose to ignore them. If you feel your employer’s behaviour is inappropriate, then you might have to seek help in how to approach this. Seeing your job and yourself as professional can help you take a step back from a difficult situation and allow you to seek help like any other professional person.

It’s important to take the lead from your employer in gauging how to communicate. For some employers, a sense of humour is really important and having a laugh together can help build your relationship together. Treating things lightly isn’t always appropriate though, especially when your employer may be dealing with the stressful aspects of life. Your job will be to ensure that how you behave at work is appropriate for the relationship and the situation with your employer.

Being reliable and trustworthy are important. No matter how nice you are, your employer won’t want someone who doesn’t turn up on time or who lets them down at short notice or who takes advantage of them.

Kindness and a willingness to learn are also key ingredients to a good relationship. You are there to support your employer to live their own life, not to judge them for their choices or their way of doing things. It can help to imagine how you would explain to someone how to support you to get dressed, for example, and you realise you are just as fussy as your employer. So being willing to learn their way of doing things and then doing it, is important, with kindness.

Next steps

Take a look at the article on ‘Managing your Working Relationship’ for more information.

Part of
Last Updated
23 January 2024
First Published
01 April 2022
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Please note that the information contained in this Handbook is provided for guidance purposes only. Every reasonable effort is made to make the information accurate and up to date, but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by Self Directed Support Scotland or any other contributing party.

The information does not, and is not intended to, amount to legal advice. You are strongly advised to obtain specific, personal and professional advice from a lawyer about employment law matters, or an accountant/ tax specialist about taxation matters, and from HMRC and your insurers. You should not rely solely on the information in this Handbook. Support organisations listed in this Handbook can help you find appropriate sources of advice.