working with family

Working With Family

According to the Institute For Family Business, 5.1 million businesses in the UK are family-owned. There are many aspects you need to consider when working with family which can influence your productivity.

Working with family can be quite comforting. After all, they are people you are familiar with. This can help with those first day nerves we all get, which are made worse by the fact we don’t know any of our co-workers.

You may share similar opinions.  You may already have an established repour which makes determining their work ethic quite easy. Hiring family members is also quite beneficial for whoever runs the business. Why? Well, they won’t be investing too heavily in interviews and background checks.

However, this can also be a disadvantage as you may struggle with addressing family members in a professional manner or making sure that personal matters stay outside of the workplace. Your close relationship can also add pressure when communicating or it may be more difficult to ensure things aren’t taken personally when big decisions are made. It is extremely important that you have a workplace mentality regardless as to whether your co-workers are family or not and acknowledge that business practices and procedures apply indiscriminately.

If you do find yourself working with family or are simply considering the endeavour and want some food for thought, here are some precautions that can help you to work with family.

  • Set the work terms

One common assumption about working with family is that documents and agreements are less important than they would be with total strangers. This comes, in part, from the fact families typically look after one another and people can jump to the conclusion this will apply to work matters as well.

In anticipation of starting work with family members, especially when those relatives are in higher ranking or managerial positions, be sure to sit down and discuss the terms of your new dynamic. Communication is extremely important; keep track of your agreement and ensure you keep things separated.

It may be necessary to ensure all corporate documents are viewed by a HR representative before beginning work. This may sound excessive, but this is beneficial for both parties as it ensures that if one of you chooses to leave the business, has a change of living circumstances, or even passes away, it can be dealt with professionally.

  • Respect boundaries and keep things professional

Introducing family conflict into the workplace can be extremely toxic. Issues like nepotism, favouritism, and family affairs can interfere with work and affect productivity. When working with family, it is extremely important to be aware of issues that can arise from your relationship. It often helps to make sure you understand and respect each other’s boundaries.

The key to getting around this is recognizing your roles in the workplace. Respect the choices of whoever has the decision-making power. Avoid using names that come from family connections like Mum or Dad and try to stick to a first name basis for workplace discussions.

  • Avoid biases and encourage equality

This may sound obvious, but it is extremely likely that biases will occur when a family share a workplace. Even if it’s unintentional, unfair treatment of familial workers can creep into working relationships and cause problems. According to HR News, two-thirds of employees in the UK claim to have witnessed nepotism in the workplace.

This situation hasn’t been helped by the pandemic, as a study conducted by The Guardian found that over a quarter of employers (28%) were more likely to hire someone familiar because they considered them to be a safer bet. The reverse issue can also be a problem, with people unintentionally having larger expectations or more easily criticize employees who are relatives. Either of these extremes can result in a biased workplace that restricts growth and denies employees the chance to advance.

Try to be as fair as possible when evaluating family members who are employees. One solution might be to have family members report to non-relative employees. These employees will be able to see them just as co-workers.

  • Look for ways to provide better support and communication

Keeping a professional demeanour is an extremely valuable trait, especially when it comes to working with family members. Personal and professional barriers will be tested. It’s important to remember that some family issues and personal tragedies are going to affect not only yourself but also relatives you work with. This could lead to situations where keeping personal and family matters out of the workplace is almost impossible under normal circumstances.

In times like these it may be necessary to invest in resources to help support and improve your communication skills. For example, having a robust HR department to offer support. This is especially important if you’re in a family business. Taking the time to invest in your communication could make a huge difference in helping you navigate difficult experiences.

  • Leave your work at work

It’s important to make sure you draw a clear line between work time and family time. Whilst this applies to pretty much everyone, it’s especially important for co-workers who are relatives to strike this balance. Otherwise, you could risk souring both a vital personal connection as we as a professional one.

It’s important to ensure that you spend time together outside of work. This will make sure you don’t lose that connection and enjoy each other’s company outside of a professional setting. It might help to allocate specific times for this like planning family trips or sharing a hobby. Whatever it is, keep it regular. This will give you a chance to relax around each other and stop things from feeling too monotonous.

If you need any more advice, feel free to contact us. You can contact us by calling us on: 0330 400 5490. Alternatively, you can use our quick contact form.

If you’d like to continue make things easier, we also offer a wide variety of training options. These include subjects like: Stress Management, Time Management, Performance Management, Personal Training, Project Management, Managing Meetings, Managing Sickness and Absence, and Leadership skills.

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