How To Hire Family Members

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The Addams Family

Photo credit: Alex Eylar 

The dilemma of whether or not to hire relatives is a hotly debated topic in the business world. There is no easy answer as to whether this is a good or a bad idea. It all depends on you: their future boss.

To be an excellent manager to members of your own family, you must know yourself implicitly, and be able to treat them as you would any other employee. It takes a great deal of integrity and discipline to create balance in a workplace where family and non-related employees mix, but it’s not an impossible task.

Familiarise  yourself with the tips below. If you can honestly embrace each of these traits, you are well qualified to manage any member of your extended family without damaging your business’s productivity or morale.

The Benefits of Hiring Family Members

From a business perspective, why might it be a good idea to hire your relatives? Besides the obvious factor of knowing their strengths and weaknesses intimately, when this process works well, you have employees that can potentially care about your business as much as you do.

If it’s a family affair, there can be a great amount of dedication and passion that is more challenging to cultivate in those that aren’t so connected to you. Trust should already be deeply established, so there is less of a need to watch over your spouse, kids or other relatives should they come on board to work for you.

Must-Haves When Hiring Family

Read the following list of traits and procedures you must commit to following if you want to hire family members and truly have it work out seamlessly. If you aren’t dedicated to these tips, you might reconsider the temptation.

Remember that hiring family members that do not work out can create tremendous strain on your professional and personal relationships. Firing an employee is hard enough. When it’s family, it’s excruciating. Only dive into this process if everything makes sense for all involved, including your business. Here are the top things to consider and commit to:

  • Be prepared to put family team members through all normal aspects of your hiring process. This means giving them a thorough interview for the actual position, drafting all the same paperwork and contracts, and giving them all perks associated with the position – and nothing more or less.

  • Pay relatives exactly the same as you would other employees. Resist the temptation to create a “special” compensation agreement, as this immediately sets up a dangerous dynamic of nepotism, especially if other team members find out (and they usually do).

  • Have a heart-to-heart discussion with your other staff members before you hire a family member. It is ultimately your decision, but letting them know ahead of time will ward off a lot of unnecessary gossip and speculation. Let your team members air their concerns, and make a sincere commitment to ensuring their fears are not realized.

  • If possible, have your family member report to any manager other than you. Removing yourself from their immediate daily directions will save heaps of headaches and inter-office politics.

  • Make sure to establish clear boundaries with your family member between your professional and personal lives. It is critical that you commit to fostering both your personal relationship, and your professional rapport. Be mindful to preserve the connection you already have.

  • Set forth rules and protocols that create respect in the workplace. For example, if you hire your daughter, make sure she never calls you “dad” or “mom” at the office. Again, your demeanor towards each other should always be professional, not personal or informal.

  • Do not treat your family member any differently than your other employees. You may be tempted to be either more lenient or more stringent with your relative. Before you act on any impulse, make sure you can honestly tell yourself you’d perform the same action in any scenario.

Over to You

Regardless of how well you can follow these tips, bear in mind that the smaller your company is, the harder this process will be. It is not recommended that you hire family members or close friends if you are a small business owner. The temptation to grant special treatment intensifies all the more.

If you still proceed with hiring family to assist in your small business operations, it is essential that you follow the advice above. Adhering to these behaviors will make the entire experience far more positive and balanced for everyone involved. Your family member and your other employees (not to mention yourself) will thank you for it.

So, do you consider hiring family members for your business? Or perhaps you’ve already done it. Please share your tips and thoughts in the comments.

P.S. Who knows, your family might help you with your next website, domain, or app purchase.


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  • Tapiwa Mapani

    Great poiints. I think this should also apply to hiring friends as that can often very ugly if proper steps aren’t taken right at the outset.

    • Olle Lindholm

      Thanks for your comment, Tapiwa! And you’re absolutely right, these tips also apply to hiring friends, because if you don’t treat them like you would any other employee, things can turn ugly.