Shop Talk

Ask the Experts: Treat and hire employees and family the same

It’s a dilemma many business owners face at one time or another: Should you hire your family members to work at your business?

Ann Close, managing member and senior human resources coach at Close HR Connections in Raleigh, says the biggest benefit of hiring family members is that they are most likely loyal, and hopefully honest and ethical.

“You also have a level of knowledge about the person and know the employee that you are getting as well as having an understanding of what they are capable of,” she said.

Also, it’s the best way for family members to learn and understand the business so they can eventually take it over.

However, make sure that employed family members don’t have a sense of entitlement.

“Make sure that they don’t have the impression that they will be able to show up whenever they want or not work very hard while on the job,” Close said. “It is important to balance the fine line of making sure that family members are not given preferential treatment or being discriminated against as a double standard.”

Before hiring your kids, make sure you’re complying with employment laws, especially if the child is a minor.

Close said that the minimum age of employment varies by industry, with some allowing teens as young as 14 to work. Others require the employee to be at least 16. Check with the N.C. Department of Labor before allowing your child to work in the business.

Close recommends paying family members using the same scale as other employees based on their experience in the industry.

Here are other tips from Close:

▪ Establish a structure that doesn’t allow family members to report to one another.

▪ In the employee handbook, set a standard formal policy for hiring family members of the owner and other employees.

▪ Before your family member starts working for you, explain that there needs to be a difference in how they interact with you at work and home.

▪ Assure employees that you will not give family members preferential treatment and that you expect them to treat your family member as they would any other new employee.

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