Running a successful business is an extreme contact sport. You need to keep an eye on operating costs, growing competition and elusive profits. Add to that the need to attract and retain the right employees and you have your plate full. This has led to many business people hiring relatives and friends as this looks like the easier option. But, is employing your relatives a good idea at all? Not always. We need to explore the advantages and disadvantages of this practice in greater detail in order to understand this.

The good

Hiring a relative can be the best short-term solution for your business. If you are running a restaurant and one of your waiters does not turn up for work for some reason, your nephew can easily step in and do the work without the need to advertise and go through cumbersome interviewing and screening processes. You may find that your relative will agree to be paid less than someone you are not related to under these circumstances.

Secondly, your relative is someone you already know. As such, you do not have to perform any background checks on your relative because you know their background. In normal circumstances, background checks can cost you time and money. For a relative, you probably are their reference and there is no need to seek anyone else’s opinion.

Another advantage of hiring your relative is that you already know their strengths and weaknesses so it won’t be problematic for you to place them in the right job or department. In addition, they may even understand your business beforehand so there won’t be a need for full induction and rigorous probationary periods.

The bad and the ugly

It would be incorrect to assume that employing your relative is all rosy and easy. It has its cons. From the start, hiring someone you are related to may be perceived as nepotism. Even if you do not see it that way, fellow employees may feel that you are favouring you relative along the way. Convincing them otherwise is almost impossible. When promoting employees, you have to ensure fairness and if you choose your relative, that may be the beginning of your problems. Justify it fully. Also, your relative may worsen the situation by assuming special privileges and taking advantage of the fact that they know you.

Another fact is that your relative may not always be the most qualified candidate for a job. They may not even have the required experience. If you recruit them just because you are related, this may adversely affect the quality of work. To avoid this, try as much as possible to avoid recruiting a relative at all costs. Some business people would rather refer relatives to other companies whose owners they know instead of employing them themselves. If you really have to choose between a relative and someone you don’t know, recruit on the basis of merit rather than your relationship.

There is also another problem with working with your relative. Whenever there is a family gathering like a wedding or funeral, you will regret hiring your relative. Instead of one person taking time off from work, suddenly you have two, maybe more. This is disruptive. That is not all. If your relative messes up, it is difficult, almost impossible to reprimand them without denting your personal relationship. Your relative may not take your criticism with the seriousness it deserves. You always have to tread carefully. Inculcating professionalism may prove difficult if your relative is involved.

It is important to also note that with a relative who is your employee, you have no bargaining chips most times. For example, if you need them to stay behind and work overtime and there is a family dinner at the same time, it is difficult to win this discussion. Putting your foot down may prove untenable because your relative expects you to understand their situation and let them go for the dinner instead. Furthermore, discussing issues like salary and bonuses with a relative is awkward. Remember, your relative probably already knows how much money you are making from the business and they may have their own estimate of how much you can afford to pay them. Discussing salary with a total stranger is much easier and manageable.

You decide

At the end of the day, the decision is yours. If you choose to employ your relative, you should keep the relationship at work as professional as possible. Treat them just like the rest of your workforce. They must sign a contract when they join. They must also adhere to all policies. If they are to be disciplined, be fair and firm. This will earn you the respect of your other employees. It is okay not to employ your relative in certain circumstances. However, this is not to say that you should not assist them in any way. It is better to refer them to your friends’ companies for employment there. If you communicate all the pitfalls involved in recruiting them, they will understand why you cannot get them on board. The choice is yours. Keep it professional.

While some people do not see anything wrong with employing relatives, as highlighted above, this is a tricky terrain needing a lot of tact. Your circumstances may dictate how you handle this issue. Just make sure you are positioned to make the most out of your business whether or not your relatives are part of your team.