Working with a family member can be enjoyable and fulfilling. You know him or her well, and more than likely are aware of strengths and weaknesses. And if you’re considering hiring this person, the trust factor is high.
Hiring a spouse or another close family member can seem an easy fix to your staffing needs. It’s very common in many practices—especially for administrative roles, such as office manager.
However, while situations differ from practice to practice, it’s important to make sure you weigh all the following factors when hiring a family member:
- Familiarity can be a double-edged sword. You’ll know (and hopefully get along with) your potential new hire. But it can sometimes be hard to draw the line between a boss and employee relationship, when you’re dealing with a close family member.
- Disciplining a family member can be very problematic and uncomfortable. You must remember that your practice’s policies and procedures apply equally to all new hires. This means that you cannot make exceptions for your family members, as it can open you up to a discrimination suit by another employee. At the very least, it can cause discord and animosity among staff.
- Mixing business with family. This is a particularly important point to consider, if you’re thinking of bringing on your spouse (or a live-in family member): it can be difficult to separate your business and home lives. Unless carefully delineated, office problems can be brought home, putting a strain on personal relationships.
So what can you do to avoid these familial employee pitfalls?
Simply being aware of and carefully considering the above points will help. However, you must set aside the time to sit down with the family member and communicate these concerns, as well as develop clear boundaries and expectations. Doing so will help sharpen those fuzzy lines, and avoid potential misunderstandings.