Hiring Employees: Is There a Better Way?

by Ed Martin

Hiring people can be a big pain in the butt. You’ve got to look for people, weed through all the applicants, interview prospects, check references… and then you’re still never quite sure what you are going to get. There has to be a better way!

The Better Way?

Some companies think they have found a short cut, as Sarah Needleman recently explained in a Wall Street Journal article. They hire relatives of existing employees, figuring it keeps it all, so to speak, in the family. Surely employees wouldn’t going to risk their jobs by recommending a loser family member, would they?

Turns out the results are mixed. On the positive side, it certainly makes the search process faster and easier. Many times relatives work together better than strangers. Keeping it all in the families can build loyalty and morale in the workplace.  But not always. On the negative side, your star employees may decide they don’t like having family members at work after all and leave. You can run into problems with resentment if a relative gets promoted or fired. You even run the risk of having related employees working against you. Plus there can be a problem even if you don’t hire a family member if you interview an employee’s relative and then chose not to hire them.

Worth the Risk?

So is it worth the risk to hire your employee’s family members? There are sound arguments for both approaches. Some businesses have strict rules against hiring relatives of existing employees. Others actively encourage bringing on family members. Sometimes it just depends on you, your management style, existing employees, your relationship with them and their relationship with their relatives.

The Big Decision

Taking on new employees is one of the biggest and most challenging chores for any small business. One that you can’t afford to mess up. If a big company makes one hiring mistake they’ll survive. One hiring mistake in a small business with only a couple of employees can be a disaster. Take your time in selecting an employee. Find one who is a good fit for you. Make sure you and your business are a good fit for them. You will be a team so you need to be compatible and have complementary skills. This is a good place to think about how relatives can work together.

Make sure potential employees understand what they will be doing. In small businesses employees often wear many hats and do different jobs. Some people love that, but it doesn’t work for others, especially if they are coming from the corporate world where job titles and functions are more narrowly defined. If you need a jack of all trades, let new hires know that up front. Make sure they know there is no staff support to make the coffee, do the copying or answer the phone in a small business as well.

No matter what approach you take, looking for help inside your company’s family or from outside, you always want to hire the best people you can get and make your decision for the right reasons. Understand the risks and rewards from any new hire before you make your final selection and you’ll have a much greater chance of making the right decision.


You can always contact me at MicroBizMadeSimple.

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