By Perminus Wainaina
You have started a company and everyone from friends to family, including that cousin you haven’t talked to in years, wants you to give them a job. It a Kenyan culture for relatives to recommend one of your cousins or uncles who ‘really’ needs a job.
Helping out your friends and relatives is not a bad idea, but having them work for you is never good for your business or relationships.
In my 10 years advising small businesses, I have found that a rule you should always live by as an employer is to never hire someone who you are not willing to fire.
There are various complications that can arise from hiring a friend or relative, here are some of the main ones;
1. They expect extra freedom
Because of your relationship, friends and family might sometimes expect some freedoms that someone who you doesn’t know personally would not expect.
Things like extra time off, missing deadlines, coming in late, leaving the office early, or even a higher level of authority and decision making than their position allows.
This will have a negative impact on your business because work will not be completed on time and other employees will feel like they are not being treated fairly.
2. They may not be the most qualified
When you hire your friend or relative, you deny yourself the opportunity to actually find a candidate that is qualified for the role and will be a great addition to your team.
This is because you will most likely be hiring this person because you want to help them out, maybe your friend lost their job or your sister has not been able to find a job in over three years.
The point is, when it comes to friends and family the hiring decision is made based on emotions, there is very little logical thought that goes into it.
For your business to grow and succeed, you need to surround yourself with people who are specialists in their respective fields. You should have people who are qualified enough to help you move the company forward.
3. Difficulty in firing
As an employer, you need to know that a time shall come when you will need to let go of an underperforming employee. But how do you do this when it is your sister or best friend?
For example, you decide to hire your sister who is a Business Administration graduate from University only to realize that they cannot do the job and you need to replace them.
Firing them could hurt your relationship and will inevitably involve your family members which could further complicate the matter.
4. Your company will lack diversity
Because of employing your relatives and family, you will notice a lack of diversity in ideas and recommendations.
Different people bring in different ideas; meaning if you want your company to grow, you need to surround yourself with people who don’t always think the same as you, people who will come up with ideas that are different from yours but will help your business.
While it is not advised, hiring your family and friends is to an extent inevitable. How then, should you handle your friends and family working for you?
How do you handle having friends and family working for you?
i. Have clear structures
The first thing you need to do is ensure that you have clear structures in place so that you avoid any misunderstandings.
This means that your HR policy should be set up in such a manner that they don’t report to you directly so that if there are any complaints when it comes to their work, then it can be handled by someone else.
ii. Hire them for a short period of time
Another way to avoid conflict when working with friends and relatives is to only hire them on a temporary basis. For example, you can give them the chance to intern at your organization in order to gain experience that will enable them to get a job somewhere else.
That way, you help them without risking your business.
iii. Recommend them to some of your friends
Alternatively, you can decide that instead of actually hiring any of your friends or family members, you recommend them to your friends who are looking to hire.
This will give you a chance to help out the people close to you while not risking the success of your business.
This is not to say that every relative or friend you hire will cause the above problems, but most of the time, little good ever comes from hiring someone you have a personal relationship with.
Hiring someone you are close to is a dangerous thing for your business, so if you want to keep your clients and want to avoid high employee turnover, then you should ensure that you don’t employ friends or family.
Perminus Wainaina is the C.E.O and Managing Partner at Corporate Staffing Services, a leading HR & Recruitment consultancy firm based in Westlands. Through personalized career coaching he assists mid-level and senior professionals get solutions to complex and challenging career issues that they are facing. Click here for more on career coaching.