What is nepotism in the workplace?: How can this be handled?

Involving friends and family in your business can be tricky. Whether you hired them for good reasons or not, it can be difficult for existing employees to adapt. Below we detail some of the effects of nepotism in the workplace and how to handle the recruitment of friends and family.

What is nepotism in the workplace?

The term “nepotism” comes from the Italian word “note,” which means nephew. Nepotism is more common in family businesses, nonprofits, and smaller firms. It is often the case that an employee relative is unable to perform the task successfully. Furthermore, making a job description specifically tailored to a relative is a form of nepotism, as is compiling an interview exam to which the relative has already received all the answers.

It is important to note that not all friends or relatives of leaders recruit nepotism. Nepotism specifically refers to cases where a relative employee is simply unsuitable for the position or unfairly favors the workplace.

Nepotism as such is not illegal in the private sector (stricter rules apply to the public sector). So if you are a relative of a new employee or board member, they should say so openly.

What impact does this have on the business?

Harvard Business Review staff member Gill Corkindale recounts how he returned from his leave to help and “show the ropes” to a new employee. Corkindale’s outrage is an example of the effects of workplace nepotism.

In the event that a manager employs a relative for bad reasons and thus engages in nepotism, the effects experienced within the workplace are not beneficial. The unfair recruitment of a relative is likely to create a hostile environment. Employees are likely to view the employer negatively – they may see someone who needs constant reinforcement for their decisions and as a weak leader. This is likely to reduce employee confidence in managerial authority and power. A manager is less likely to be seen as objective and supportive by long-term employees. This is frustrating and may call into question workers whether it is at all worth making the maximum effort for the company. As a result, employees with outstanding performance in their role may resign to seek more satisfying work.

What are the implications for the new employee?

If a related employee is hired for bad reasons, it is unlikely that other employees will like it. This means that the new employee is less likely to develop meaningful workplace relationships and may hinder the quality and effectiveness of group projects. If so, a shallow relationship is more likely to develop to protect the employment of other employees. It’s good to warn the new employee about this. Over time, if the new employee puts himself in there, he will no doubt fit in well. ”

How can this be handled?

By this point, it should become clear that hiring friends or relatives just because you know them is not good for the job. However, if you have a friend or family member who you know can really benefit your business, you need to choose wisely how to present him or her to the business.

  1. Be honest about the relationship: let your existing employees know that your new employee is a relative. It’s much more embarrassing to find out by accident later, as it will look like you’re hiding something.
  2. Make sure you treat all employees equally: Do not offer a related employee any undeserved “special privileges”.
  3. Encourage your new employee to build relationships and prove your skills: Nothing speaks as loudly as results.

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