The pros and cons of hiring friends and family

Pros Cons Hiring Friends Family

If you decide to hire a relative or close friend to work in your business, it will probably be based on the assumption that goodwill and loyalty will follow. But sometimes it can be difficult to work with those you love – the relationship changes from the one you’re used to, with the danger of bad feelings encroaching onto life outside of work.
The problem is that issues tend to surface very quickly if you’re not prepared for them, and can make you question your decision. Common problems include adverse reactions from the existing staff, your friend or relative taking advantage of you, or accusations of favouritism being made.
So to help you deal with a potentially tricky situation, here are just a few of the pros and cons of hiring a friend or family member. They may help you decide whether familiarity would work in your favour, or if it could ultimately be the bane of your life.

Pros of hiring friends and family

  • A trusted friend or family member will work hard on your behalf in helping you to succeed, perhaps working longer hours when needed, with no expectation of reward.
  • You’ll be able to trust them, rely on them for support, and know that they share your values in life.
  • Having a friend or relative working for you can lighten the atmosphere, and provide a more pleasant working environment.
  • Your knowledge of that person, their strengths and limitations, helps you to assign the tasks that will be completed well.
  • You’re helping someone you love by offering them a position in your company, and have the satisfaction of giving them your support.
  • You can save on the expense of recruitment.
  • A friend can lift your spirits when business isn’t going well, and offer a trusted objective view on any work situation.

Cons of hiring friends and family

  • A relative or friend could take advantage of your relationship by not following the rules, or taking your support for granted.
  • It may cause dissension in the office if others think you’re showing favouritism.
  • Work problems could be taken home, or adversely affect the relationship with your friend away from the workplace.
  • It would be difficult to discipline or fire a friend/relative if things don’t work out.
  • It can be problematic to put the necessary professional boundaries in place at work.
  • Discussions about money can make the whole process jeopardise your friendship.
  • It may be difficult to promote your friend or relative over other long-standing employees, even if they deserve it.
A trial period would be a good way to see how the situation develops, giving yourself and your friend or relative the opportunity to back away with no loss of dignity if it doesn’t work out. It’s also essential to have a written contract in place if you decide on a more permanent arrangement, as well as an employee handbook that outlines the disciplinary procedures and other rules.
Although you’ll make a saving on recruitment costs, there may be a hidden price to pay for taking on a friend or relative, and one which could threaten your relationship in the long-term.
Putting the situation on a more professional footing reduces the threat to your relationship away from work, and protects you from issues experienced simply because you’re a friend or relative of this employee.
Anything you can do to mitigate these risks will help to save the friendship in the long-run, and ensure your business runs smoothly with or without their input.
Gary Addison has over 20 years’ experience advising directors when facing the threat of company liquidation, particularly in the area of director redundancy and statutory entitlements.