I hired a family member and I'm starting to regret it! What should I do?

You’ll find family-run businesses right across the UK and beyond. From JCB and Aldi, to Specsavers and Dell – there are more than you might imagine. So, running a successful family business can definitely work.

But, it’s not for everyone 🙅

Employing your nearest and dearest comes with advantages and disadvantages. In this blog, I’ll go through some of the pros and cons – so that you don’t end up making a decision you’ll regret.

THE BENEFITS OF KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY

1. Knowledge is power 💪

When you hire a family member, you’re in a privileged position. Why? Because you already know them. You know their background, you know their personality. This is WAAAY more than you’d ever know about any new hire that wasn’t related to you.

This can save you heaps of time and money. Think about it, you don’t have to wait for references to be sent to you. You don’t have to check that they went to university and got the qualifications they say they have. Instead, they can come in and hit the ground running!

2. Sharing is caring

Another benefit of hiring a family member, is that they might care more about your business, because the whole family is already personally invested in it. That’s not to say non-family members wouldn’t care. However, it might take strangers longer to develop an emotional attachment to your brand.

3. Happier by your side

On a day-to-day basis, working with a family-member could be quite an enjoyable experience. After all, you already have a personal connection with one another. You have loads of common ground and therefore lots to talk about!

4. Leaving a lasting legacy 👴

Some small business owners would love their business to stay in the family. So, when they’re no longer able to work, or no longer around, it can be passed down the generations.

Providing your family members with this kind of security might give you some comfort too?

THE EMPLOYMENT LAW POSITION

When you hire family members, they are things you must avoid doing to keep yourself on the right side of the law ⚖

For example, if you’re treating your family members better than your other employees, you could end up in hot water 🔥 You need to think seriously about this and make sure all your everyday decisions and actions aren’t favouring your loved ones.

Likewise, there could be trouble if you dodge tax or insurance payments (For more information on this, go to GOV.UK)

Make sure you have employment contracts and HR policies for everyone in your business. Whether they’re related or not.

THE THINGS THAT CAN GO WRONG

Hiring a family member can also bring with it some MAHOOOSIVE headaches.

These might include:

😞 Your family member being unable to take orders from you, or respect you as their superior

😞 Complaints from other members of staff, because they think you’re giving your family member special treatment

😞 Viewing an existing member of staff differently because of their relationship with your family member (good or bad)

😞 Feeling like you can’t pull them up on poor performance or behaviour

😞 Feeling personally responsible for their poor performance or behaviour

😞 Home and work boundaries becoming blurred

😞 Other family members getting involved in things that have happened in the workplace

😞 Being put in an awkward position when your family member asks for, or expects, special dispensation

These are real issues that could arise. So, remember to think this decision through, rather than spontaneously agreeing to it at a family gathering!

TIME FOR A CASE STUDY

George is a hairdresser who has owned his salon since the late seventies. His nephew Mario – who is in his thirties – has worked for his uncle since he left school.

On a day-to-day basis, they rub along nicely. In fact, there are lots of unseen benefits. Like lifts to work, fetching lunch for one another, covering each other’s appointments when things crop up.

But, when family disputes happen, Mario often goes AWOL. In other words, he sulks and fails to show up for work. Ordinarily, George would have dismissed an employee for doing that. But, feels he can’t sack Mario because he’s related, and George’s family would frown upon him for doing so.

There are downsides from Mario’s perspective too 👎

For example, when the coronavirus pandemic began, Mario discovered that his uncle had told his accountant that Mario only worked part-time hours. When in fact, he worked full-time hours and more! This resulted in Mario getting less furlough pay. If George wasn’t his uncle, he would have taken this matter further.

TIPS FOR HIRING FAMILY MEMBERS

Like I said, there are loads of businesses who employ family members and make it work perfectly for them.

So, what’s their secret?

✅ They think it through super-carefully before any job offer is made

✅ They put a trial period in place to make sure it works for both parties before committing 

✅ They make sure the family member is actually capable of doing the job and has the skills to do it well

✅ They consider if their family member is a good fit for the business

✅ They have water-tight employment contracts and HR policies

✅ They use job descriptions with their family members

✅ They discipline and reward them in the same way they would other employees

✅ They have clear boundaries inside and outside of work and agree these with the family member

✅ They adhere to all the rules and regulations about hiring family members

✅ They’re open and honest about it with all their stakeholders

✅ They nip things in the bud if the family member takes to take the mickey

In other words…

They treat them like any other employee! 👌

🛒 Note, if you don’t have all your people paperwork in order (I’m talking contracts, employee policies etc) check out my online shop for competitive, compliant, easy-to-use, and easy-to-personalise HR templates.

And for all future hires, check out my Hiring Toolkit. The perfect bundle of hiring tools and templates designed for modern, business owners looking to hire employees or self-employed contractors (and even family members too!)

TO SUM THINGS UP THEN

📈 There are thousands of very successful family-run businesses out there

😥 However, there are also loads of small business owners who have regretted hiring a family member

👍 The advantages of recruiting relatives shouldn’t be dismissed. For example, the hiring process isn’t reliant on background checks and references

👎 But, there are negatives too. For example, when your existing staff accuse you of favouritism. And, that’s when you can come a cropper with the law!

✂ Read my case study about a family hairdresser who experienced the pitfalls first-hand

⚖ Remember, it’s about treating your family member like any other employee

🔑 That’s the secret to making it work

Mandy Hamerla

Virtual HR Director & Leadership Mentor. I create game-changing HR & Hiring Strategies for ambitious small businesses in the UK and support you to lead your team with confidence. Check out my shop to download HR Templates & Contracts designed to make life easier.

www.modernhr.co.uk