Whether your company is a small start-up or a larger organization, sooner or later you will face the issue of whether or not to hire family members. While some may strictly advise against it and others may swear by it, keep in mind that there are pros and cons to the situation.

Pros of Hiring a Family Member

There can be many advantages to hiring family members. To start, you already know them, while hiring a stranger can be a risk. It can also make the workday more fun for all involved if you get along well with your family. Plus, family members may be more invested in the business.

You Know Your Family Member

Knowing your family member can come in handy when they become your employee. You don’t need to run a background check or call references for a family member. You already know how to motivate them and can somewhat gauge their reaction to discipline. You also know what tasks they will be able to handle and enjoy. Consideration of these factors may help you decide if your family member should become one of your most productive employees under the right circumstances.

Working with Family Can Be Fun

Working with family can be fun if you get along well with them. If you have similar backgrounds or received training together, you may find that your synergy is better than those you didn’t train with. You also may have endless personal experiences to talk about or even use to help ease your explanation of performing tasks.

Cons of Hiring a Family Member

Just as working with family can have many advantages, there are also some significant downsides. A family member may expect special privileges or try to take advantage of your relationship in ways that a regular employee would not. Family members may also try to treat you the same way they would outside of the workplace, even if at work you are the boss. Many people refuse to work with family members for fear that work could come between them and affect their relationship outside of work as well.

Special Privileges May Be Expected

Family members often expect to be granted special privileges, such as being able to use the phone whenever or arrive late without repercussions. Family members may also expect to be paid more than average or to receive advances of pay upon request. It is important to establish ground rules upfront so that family members understand they must follow the same rules as other employees.

Family May Not Show Respect

Generally, new employees show their employer a level of respect. This may be absent when hiring a family member, so it is important to assess the character of your family member before hiring them. Be sure to consider past experiences to help determine whether they will be a good fit in regards to respect and professionalism in the workplace. It may be helpful to speak to the family member about the attitude and language that is considered acceptable on the job so that the company culture is not affected after hire.

Working Relationship May Affect Outside Relationship

One of the most difficult aspects of hiring family members is that issues found on the job may spill over into personal relationships. If the working relationship does not work out, there may be animosity that may even involve other family members. Before hiring a family member, it may be helpful to have a discussion about keeping work and home life separate.

How to Handle Employing Family

Hiring relatives can help a business to quickly access a group of qualified employee candidates that will fit well with the company culture. In the hiring of relatives, however, their qualifications, stability, values, experience, and other pertinent characteristics should be considered. Hiring a family member should be a well thought out decision, not an impulse. 

If the family member is a good fit for your business, they can be a major asset. It’s important not to hire a family member for the sake of hiring a family member. Someone not suited for the business or the job won’t be an asset to the company and may cause hard feelings amongst the other employees. For family members who are a good fit for the company, it’s important that both you and the family member have an understanding of the rules ahead of time. You may want to have some written guidelines for you both to follow. That can help protect both the company and the familial relationship.

Having a nepotism policy in place can help protect both you and your family members. Following the guidelines of nepotism policies can help ensure that your working relationship remains good and your other employees don’t feel that your relative is experiencing any favoritism.

How to Successfully Work with Family Members

If you do decide to hire family members, there are some things to consider that can help you maintain a good working and personal relationship. Having set rules in place can help you work together without work or personal lives interfering with each other.

Stay Professional

It’s important to maintain a proper professional relationship while at work. No matter how close you and your family member may be outside of work, you should both address each other professionally while in the workplace. This is important not only because it establishes a professional atmosphere rather than a casual one, but it can also help ensure that other employees don’t feel that the family member is benefiting from favoritism.

Respect Responsibilities and Positions

It’s important for family members to show respect due to the positions they hold at the company. If you are in a position of responsibility over a family member, that family member should treat you like their boss, the same as any other employee would. No matter the nature of your relationship outside of work, it’s important for roles and responsibilities within the company to be given proper respect.

Keep Work at Work

One of the major difficulties of working with family is keeping work relationships and personal relationships separate. To this end, it’s important to avoid discussing work outside of work. What happens at the office needs to stay at the office. That way, you can maintain your personal relationship as it was before you worked together without work interfering.

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