Hiring Family

Posted by Judy Fort on August 24, 2016

What is YOUR Recruiting Superpower


What is Wrong with Nepotism?

We’ve all been there, a family member who really needs a job or a great worker referred by an employee who is their spouse.  And it is tempting to offer jobs to these people – in many cases they already feel like a part of the company and have a good understanding of your business and what you do.  And they may be very qualified.  However, there are many things you should keep in mind – both good and bad – when hiring a family member into the company.  And regardless of what you decide, make sure you have a hiring policy in place to assist with these decisions.

Some Good

  • As stated before, it is likely that your friends and family have a good understanding of what your business does.  Likewise, you probably also have a pretty good understanding of what your family member can do and you trust them to do it.
  • Employee members may be willing to work at lower rates to help you out (at least at first).  However, as pointed out by Monster, make sure this information is written down and both you and your family member have a copy.
  • There can be cost savings (both tax and otherwise) when hiring family members.
  • Hiring your kids to help out can be a great way to introduce them to the business and groom them to one day take it over.

Some Bad

  • What if a family member you hire cannot do the job?  Whether this is your family member or the family member of an employee, this leaves you with a tough decision and can lead to rifts between family members.  Also, if you have to have a layoff, it complicates these decisions as well (no one feels good about laying off a married couple at the same time even if it makes business sense).
  • Nepotism creates certain expectations all around.  Other employees (sometime justifiably) assume that the newly hired or promoted family member cannot do the job they were hired.  The family member may expect freebies or special treatment.  No matter how you actually handle the situation, everyone has their feelings about this and those feelings will affect how that family member is accepted as a part of the team.
  • Family members’ gossip.  About you at work with colleagues to get accepted.  And about their colleagues with you to get a leg up.  This can be hurtful either way, and again is a means to create a barrier between family members.  Face it: your family will be insiders.

Wrap Up

Finally, I’ve had some personal experience with this at a couple of jobs now.  The first was a job right out of college at a call center where my husband was my supervisor and my sister and I both reported to him.  The second was at a company where my husband was the CTO, my brother reported to him, and I reported into Operations.  In both cases, he and I were able to make this work for us, but here are a few situations that perhaps could have been tricky in different situations, and I’ll leave you to ponder them…

  • At the call center, a person called in to my sister and started yelling at her.  The customer asked to be transferred to her supervisor (my sister’s brother-in-law) for resolution.  He resolved the issue and talked with my sister, and everyone walked away happy – but what if these were different people and my husband didn’t offer the level of service he should have to the customer and instead got defensive about how my sister was treated?
  • At the later job, my husband gave an estimate for development work to the Operations director with which she didn’t agree.  She then told me to go to my husband and talk him into doing this in a more cost-effective manner.  This posed a big issue for me, personally, because while I did end up going and talking with my husband, I agreed with his assessment of the time it would take, and it was hard to bring this information back to my boss.  Also, being in the role I was, I also really wanted to advocate for the client to my husband, but struggled to do so.  In this case, I had to remove myself from the conversation and encourage them to talk directly, which long-term resulted in better communication between the groups.