The pros and cons of hiring family and friends

job hire, family

“Never work with children or animals” – it’s common advice that many stand by, but what about family and friends? Is it a work relationship made in heaven or a recipe for disaster?

When I tell people that I work with my husband, I’ll often get an, “Ooh that’ll test a relationship”, or “You’re brave”. For us it works, but it wouldn’t for everyone. There’s pros and cons to working with family and friends, here are a few to consider when hiring employees that you have a personal relationship with:

Pros to hiring family and friends

  1. They’ve got your back
    A friend or family member is emotionally invested by default. You’ve got a personal connection and the history to back it, your bond means you’re more likely to share common values and be aligned with similar work ethics. Solid working relationships are built on trust and respect, a friend or family member will already hold these attributes, plus they’ll always have your best interests at heart.
  2. You don’t have to beat around the bush
    Your relationship is established; therefore, your previous history allows you to understand their behaviour and how they operate. This means you can be more direct in your communication and not worry about treading quite so carefully around delicate subjects.
  3. They should (in theory) be easier to manage
    You will already have a good idea how to manage them as you’ll understand their personality type from your time spent together outside of work. You’ll know what motivates and drives them, as well as what annoys them which could potentially cause problems. Since you know them on a social level, you’ll recognise easily whether they would fit the culture of your team before they even start work.

Cons to hiring family and friends

  1. Awkward performance reviews
    When it comes to conducting a performance review, things could get awkward if the employee isn’t performing. However, this can be avoided by being upfront and transparent from the very beginning. Roles and responsibilities should be clearly defined and work regularly monitored with an open channel for communication. Like any other employee, hold them accountable.
  2. You may jeopardise the team dynamic
    Hiring a friend or family member holds the risk of upsetting the existing team dynamic. The team may feel the employee was hired based on your connection, and misjudge their ability to perform in the role. They may also feel that you favour them, which could result in the employee being alienated from the rest of the team or treated with caution. These issues can be avoided as long as all workers are treated equally, including disciplinary actions. In truth, I have personally found that I treat employees more harshly if they are family or a friend, probably to counteract any worry that they may not be taken seriously by the team.
  3. It’s harder not to take your work home with you
    Don’t mix up work and play, keep work chat in the office and don’t ever be tempted to discuss a work issue while on personal time. Maintain clear boundaries and definitely avoid office gossip!

Personally, I believe it’s perfectly fine to hire family and friends, I have done it in the past and I would certainly in the future. Ultimately, it’s business – if that person is the right fit for the job and the best option from the pool of candidates on offer, then I see no reason not to bring them into the team.