Many successful businesses proudly advertise themselves and family businesses. If you are in this group, your family can be a valuable component of your company’s reputation and operation. However, without some prevention, issues with nepotism could trigger costly conflicts and legal setbacks.
What is nepotism, anyway?
Nepotism refers to favoring family members over non-related employees. Some examples include:
- Promoting an unqualified sibling to a position for which other employees would be better suited
- Failing to punish a niece or nephew for engaging in workplace harassment
- A family member acting badly because they know the boss
- Giving a relative a better schedule, more favorable project or other types of preferential treatment
These actions can create animosity in the workplace and ultimately lead to morale issues or even legal claims.
Preventing nepotism in your business
As a business owner, you can take a few steps to keep nepotism from causing problems.
- Create an anti-nepotism policy. Crating this type of policy can help shut down potentially unfair treatment before it begins. In an anti-nepotism policy, you can establish clear and firm rules for family members working together. Example terms could include prohibiting related employees from working in the same department or participating in certain decisions involving family members.
- Focus on fairness. Treating workers fairly is a straightforward way of combating nepotism. Making decisions based on qualifications and experience rather than family lineage can help you make choices that are in the best interests of your business. Further, prioritizing fairness allows you to defend against claims of favoritism or discrimination more easily.
- Take complaints seriously. If an employee, manager or customer comments on an issue regarding a family member, you should not ignore it. You might think, “I know this person, and they would never do or say that, so I trust them.” However, this failure to take the complaint seriously could let a small matter become much worse. Instead, take the feedback seriously by investigating the claims, consulting with others and taking appropriate action – even if it is against a relative.
These few tips can allow you to work with relatives without it creating conflicts and animosity.