There are usually two scenarios that occur when a business hires family or friends. The first consists of your closest of kin asking for a favor. You may not even have a position open, but you make up one just to help out a friend or family member. This is by far, worst case scenario. The second is when you are in desperate need to fill a position and ask for some help because you need help fast. Every now and then there might be the circumstance where the family member is the most qualified for the job, but these don’t seem to cause near as many problems as the first two cases.
I am by no means trying to say that you should never hire employees that are related to you in some way or another, but you definitely should be more cautious. Peter Panken, a labor lawyer with Parker Chapin Flattau & Klimpl, in New York, advises caution. “When you hire people on the basis of relationships, some, will be very good, but some not so good. It causes problems.” He generally tells clients to avoid hiring kin and friends if possible. If you must, there are a few guidelines that you should try and follow when hiring a member of your family or friend.
#1 Make the expectations clear from the start!
This not only includes what you expect from them, but what they expect from you. The ball can roll either way on this one. It is easy for your friend to slack off or feel like they can do whatever they want when at work because “They know the boss personally.” This puts you as an employer in a tough position. You must enforce the rules to EVERYONE, but in many cases it can jeopardize friendships. As mentioned before, this works both ways. Take my coworker for example. She worked for her aunt and uncle in college as a secretary. When she needed time off she tried to do it “by the book”, but they would always tell her it was no big deal and to take whatever time she needed off. This is just one of many cases where they attempted to cater to every one of her needs. They did not treat her as an employee, but as their niece who needed special privileges. As nice as this can be, it can many times make the employee feel less needed than others. This may end up back firing on you as an employer.
By making the expectations clear from the very beginning, you may be able to side step a few of these problems. You must make it clear to them that they will be treated like any other employee. This means that they will not receive special treatment, get away with certain things, nor will they be judged harder than any other employee. You must also tell them what you expect from them. They should be expected to work just as they would for any other employer and are equal to their co-workers. There must be a clear separation of work and personal life. Although this can be difficult, you should both work very hard not to bring your personal life into work, and not to let what happens at work influence your social life.
#2 Don’t make up positions; be sure that there is a real need for hire!
It is natural to want to help a friend out when they are in need, but it is not good business sense to make up positions that there is no need for. It will increase your overhead and can end up being wasteful. It is possible that you will find out that you really did need someone in that position, but it could turn out much worst. It is one thing to create a position and actually get stuff done, but what happens when you are paying someone to do nothing. No matter what, whether you really need them or not, if you have an extra set of hands around there is always something that can be done. What if they realize they aren’t vital to the organization or they just get lazy? Now you’re facing the prospect of firing them. How fun is that? It’ tough enough to fire the people you don’t like. This is a risk you take when creating jobs for your family members or friends.
What do you do?
In some cases people find it much easier to work with family and friends. Although, when it doesn’t work out it can be quite the tragedy. You have to ask yourself this “Is it worth the risk of putting my business and my relationship with this person in jeopardy?” It is in that, where you will find the answer.
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