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What Should I Consider When Hiring Family?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 03 December 2016
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Hiring family is not an unusual practice. There are many thriving businesses where some or most employees have a family relationship. Numerous considerations apply to the practice of hiring family members. Bosses or owners need to first ascertain the legality of employing a relative, because in the public sector or in certain fields that are heavily regulated by governments, this is a practice that may be illegal or discouraged. Additionally, owners or managers must clearly define the employee’s relation to the manager in the workplace, the expectations of the job, the matter of whether a family member is really qualified to do the job, the impact of hiring family members on other employees, and the potential effects of establishing a dual relationship with the family member.

Someone in the position of hiring family needs to first determine if it is legal. Many public agencies prohibit managers from hiring family because they feel this is a form of favoritism and nepotism. Some workplaces also prohibit fraternization of employees, or they will be certain to move employees to different departments or sectors of a business if they form relationships like marriages.

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Even when people can hire family legally, they should consider whether this benefits the business. Employees can have a significant effect on the success or failure of the enterprise. Some people are drawn to hiring family because they want to assist a family member who needs a job, but this decision isn’t always a business-savvy one. If an employee who is a family member doesn’t positively contribute to the work environment, managers or owners are advised to look for more qualified employees. Also, when contemplating hiring family, the manager should objectively review all job candidates to decide which applicant is really the best fit.

When family members are hired, it’s extremely important to define the relationship at work. If a son and daughter are employed, they should know how to respond to their father or mother at work, since the parent is now the boss. Other relatives need explicit instruction on the level of familiarity they can adopt in the workplace. Similarly, it should be made evident that the family member is expected to perform work with competence, and that he or she is expected to abide by the same standards that apply to every other employee. Allowing favoritism in the workplace may cause resentment or frustration to arise in non-related employees. Some bosses do the opposite and develop higher standards for family employees, and this is just as unfair and likely to result in the family member quitting.

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irontoenail
Post 3

@Ana1234 - This might not be a family owned business though. If you just happen to be the person in charge of hiring for a company and a family member applies for the job you are going to have trouble no matter what the outcome. If you hire them, then you'll be accused of nepotism, whether or not you actually are guilty of it.

If you don't hire them, then they are probably going to be very annoyed, even if they don't show it. It is not a win-win situation, so I can see why a lot of companies would have a policy that it's just not possible to hire family members.

Ana1234
Post 2

@browncoat - It does depend on the business and on the family. There have been plenty of people who have made it work and work well, although I suspect it mostly works best when either the two family members are equals starting a business, or when one is obviously higher in authority in both the family and the workplace.

In fact, family owned businesses used to be the norm. My father worked for a family owned business when he was younger, although he decided to leave when he got married and do something else.

browncoat
Post 1

I would really discourage this if it's at all possible. It's just very difficult to have a good relationship with someone who is both family and a work colleague, especially if someone is in a higher position at work than someone else.

And the trouble can start even before the person is hired. If you go into a job thinking that you deserve it because you're family, then you might be sorely disappointed. It's better to just have a policy of never getting into that situation in the first place.

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