The advantages seem obvious. Your friends and family should work with you and you would expect them to be flexible and trustworthy. You know their background and their personality so you are not having to assess them based on an application form and an interview. The likelihood of them trying to “pull a sickie” is potentially lower because you are more likely to know if their ill health is genuine or self inflicted.
There can be a tendency to view working with friends and family in an overly optimistic manner. What someone is like outside of work doesn’t necessarily reflect what they will be like in work. There is also a world of difference between having someone work with you and having them work for you.
The dynamics in a friendship situation is based on one of equals. It can be very difficult, for both parties, to adapt to a situation where in work on of you is the boss of the other. When you are someone’s boss you cannot always be their friend. There can be difficulties with other members of the workforce because the personal relationship leaves you both open to accusations of favouritism and that in the event of any issues there will be the assumption that you would take each other sides rather than be unbiased.
Family dynamics are even more complex and it can be very hard for family members to act in accordance with the work relationship rather than follow years of established family behaviour. It can be very difficult to view each other as responsible, professional adults when you have a lifetime of family visits and events to draw from. Family members are vulnerable to accusations that they have only got or kept their position because they family.
There can be a reluctance by other members of the workforce to raise issues of concern about the behaviour or performance of your family or friends because of a belief that you will close ranks and protect them. It is important to consider how you would feel if it became necessary to discipline or dismiss your friend or family member.
An added complication is the fact that friends and family fall out. You need to consider how you would keep those issues completely out of the workplace. As a separate matter do consider that from a practical perspective, one of the most overlooked problems can occur when there is a family/friends holiday or event, such as a wedding, that you all want to attend. You can be left with the choice of either allowing more people off than you would normally or being held responsible for the reason why your family or friends aren’t in attendance.
Employing family and friends can be a positive step but it is one you should only enter into with your eyes wide open.
If you want tailored advice about employing friends or family, call the Advice Service on 0844 892 2772 and we will be happy to help, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.