Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility Family and Friends in the Workplace - Vinna Human Resources

Nepotism in the workplace can often be hard to avoid, especially with a business in a small town where new hires are often family members or friends of the leadership. Has your company noticed these hires change attitudes and moral for the other employees? Learn five ways to protect your company from nepotism and how we advise to best establish boundaries with hiring family and friends in the workplace.

1. Morale

Employee morale can often be impacted by the employment of a family or friend, especially if the new hire took a potential promotion away from a current employee. If your staff sees family members or friends of the company leaders getting rewarded without putting in the hard work, this creates a message about your company’s ethics. You may start to see new, unproductive behavior from employees that worked hard for the promotion and did not receive a chance at the opportunity.

Do a checks and balance system before hiring family or friends. Is there another employee that is a better fit for the position? If so, could the family member or friend take over the employee’s old position? Maybe the new hire is a perfect fit. Speak with the employee who was working towards this position to avoid future problems.

2. Turnover

Think about the message you are sharing with your teams by promoting or hiring family connections over current employees. Your staff, beyond the individual who missed the promotion opportunity, may leave the company because of nepotism. Do your employees know what their career paths look like? Does hiring this friend or family member replace a current employee’s next step of their career?

Take the time prior to making a final decision to review the current team, employee’s career plans and inform individuals who may not be the right fit yet in their jobs. This extra time may help avoid the unethical views on your business as well as avoid the time and money for replacing current employees.

3. Hired Person will Suffer

The workplace may become toxic if someone was hired because of nepotism. New hires often will not know whose career paths their employment altered. The family connection may be better qualified; however, other employees may not see this as so. “When employees are hired because of nepotism, others may question whether they have the necessary knowledge, skills, and attitudes,” says Owen Drury, Digital Editor at ODDigital. “If they have this kind of distrust, they may show [the family member] less respect, ignore their ideas and instructions, or comment on them negatively.”

Conflicts are easiest to avoid when not present at all. To avoid this potential toxicity, companies need to focus on company culture and communication. Set a code of ethics, code of conduct and conflict of interest policy for both new and current employees to sign in acknowledgement.

4. Family Drama

Everyone wants to avoid drama at work, especially when it comes to family. No longer is conflict limited to who leads which project. Say the new hire is a grandchild of the business owner. How does a manager navigate this obstacle? Will the family member be willing to hear out constructive criticism? What if the grandchild is not a good fit for the position hired for? Can the manager let the employee go without their job suffering as well?

Boundaries need to be established from the beginning in a company handbook. All employees, no matter family relation, need to be held at an equal standard. Annual or bi-annual reviews for all staff, standard quality checks and behavior should all be well-written out and clear in your company’s handbook.

5. Legal Trouble

Hiring family members and friends is not illegal, however, discrimination is. When hiring family connections, oftentimes similar ethnic and religions are shared. Only promoting employees with similar backgrounds to leadership can display indirect discrimination. Employers will need to provide clear proof of not discriminating against an employee or candidate.

There is an outline to avoid legal trouble for your company. Document clear interview examples and education background for or against employment. These notes should be included in personnel files for employees and candidates in case legal action is pursued.

As your company begins to navigate its way through the potential employment of family members and friends, reach out to Vinna Human Resources. We have experience in aiding businesses through these obstacles.

Information for this article was gathered from i-Sight.

Scroll to Top