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Should You Hire Family Members on Your Small Business?

2011 June 15
by Contributor

Hiring a family member to work with you on your small business can be rewarding on a relationship level and on a business level. It’s always dicey to mix business with loving relationships, though. Misunderstandings due to the nature of the business world can lead to animosity that could last for years.

You have to weigh the potential discomfort of bringing the family business home with you on the holidays against the good will you could generate by hiring a relative. As more people find themselves without work during this recession, small business owners feel more pressure to help their families out by giving a job to a brother, sister, aunt, uncle, or other relative who has lost a job.

Mutually Beneficial for Employer and Employee

Some aspects of having a family member work for you are definitely positive. You may be able to hire your family at a discounted salary compared to what you would need to pay a stranger to do the same work. If you need help and a family member needs a job, you can both benefit from the arrangement as long as the family member has the necessary skills to fill the position you need filled. The good feelings of helping out someone in the family could spread throughout the rest of the family as well, which could tighten your family bonds.

Family Members Tend to Be More Invested in Success of Your Business

When you hire someone who cares for you, there is a good chance he or she is extremely interested in seeing your business succeed. A family member might be more willing to put in extra time or effort to make sure that certain problems receive proper attention. Since your business represents the family name, your relative might feel a sense of pride in the company that someone unrelated to you would not feel. A relative with an emotional investment in your well-being can be worth more to your business than just an average employee.

Possible Pitfalls of Family Employees

Business doesn’t always mesh well with family ties, though. Some family members may not take their employment as seriously. They may feel too familiar with you or fail to give proper respect because age differences of family hierarchy. For example, an older brother might slack off if his younger brother is in charge of him. As an employer of a family member, you have to prepare for some of the more painful aspects of business. You might need to criticize your family member’s job performance, which can be awkward. It is important to keep the boundaries between business and family as clear as possible at the work place.

How Comfortable Are You Supervising the Family Member?

Remember that any employee needs an objective evaluation, family or not. If you don’t feel like you could sit down with your relative and give them a straightforward job evaluation at the end of 90 days, you might want to avoid hiring them. Hiring older family members can be especially difficult on your relationships with them. Your mother, father, grandparents, aunts, and uncles have all been authority figures for you at one time or another. When the tables are turned, it may be difficult for them and for you to flip that relationship upside down so that you are the authority figure.

The Ultimate Answer Depends on the People Involved

Whether or not you should hire family members to work for you depends a great deal on your relationships with the family members and their personalities. If you feel you can trust them to remember that your business is separate from your family, you might find that having a family member as an employee is a rewarding experience. If there is a chance that the family member might expect special treatment or have trouble maintaining those work and family boundaries, you could be better off helping them find employment elsewhere.

Jessica Bosari manages the money-saving website, Billeater. The site offers tips for saving money to individuals and small businesses.

cc licensed ( BY SD ) flickr photo shared by Ernst Vikne

8 Responses leave one →
  1. June 19, 2011

    Introduction is very good, very detailed,thank you very much oh, expect the author better after work. The fan will support this website!

  2. June 20, 2011

    I like this post. I am working as a mumpreneur first and then my husband got involve. I agree that the success of having this scenario depends on the people involve. We work very well. I guess we make a great team I can talk to him whatever we need to do and change. We sometimes oppose to each other’s idea. But we only have one common goal: to create a better life for all of us (for our kids)! and that’s what make’s it work right

  3. June 20, 2011

    No way would I ever hire a family member for my business. It is simply not worth it. From whatever I have seen and observed, employment of this form rarely works well.

    Unless families are themselves into business for a long time and understand what need to be done, it is very very difficult to get the right kind of balance between family life and business.

    “family members may not take their employment as seriously” – I think this is a gross understatement.

  4. June 21, 2011

    I wouldn’t hire family members and I would take this even further. I would not hire very good friends, as well. There is no point to put these relationships at risk, as there will be for sure a lot of tensions and issues related to the business….
    Tomek

  5. josh permalink
    July 2, 2011

    I think hiring a family member depends upon the situation. If she/he is capable enough to be a part of it then why not? this is such an interesting article. Glad i come across your site.

  6. August 24, 2011

    I am pretty much pleased with your good work.You put really very helpful information. Keep it up. Keep blogging. Looking to reading your next post.

  7. October 21, 2011

    I really like this website.

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