By Natalie Craigmile

Working with family members is a lot more common than people think. However, every family is different and working with family presents both unique advantages and challenges. Check out the article below to find out if hiring a family member is the right choice for you.

What are the benefits of hiring a family member?

You have the inside scoop.

You probably already know whether they present themselves well to others, did well in school, are trustworthy, etc. If it’s your spouse, maybe you already know that they complement your qualities and help fill certain skills that you lack. You already have much more information about your family member than you could ever get from a stranger in a one-hour job interview.

They are incentivized to do a good job.

As long as you already have a good relationship with this person, they will likely feel some loyalty and pressure to do their best on the job. They will want not want to slack off and cause a conflict with you. Looking bad to a colleague is one thing, but disappointing a sibling or parent is much worse.

Everyone has skin in the game.

If you hire a close family member, their financial success is often closely tied to yours. When the business does well, both you and the family member will benefit. This can be a powerful motivator for both people. In some cases, hiring your child, spouse, or parent can even save you money on your taxes.

Your relationship grows.

When you begin working with this person, your relationship is bound to change. You will be working towards a common goal together and you will likely develop a new, exciting dimension to your relationship.

What are the downsides?

They may expect special privileges.

When the boss is a relative, sometimes it can be tempting for an employee to assume they will receive special privileges. This might mean not showing up on time or taking extra-long lunch breaks. You don’t want to hire anyone who will disgruntle your other employees or force you to play favorites.

Separating your work and home life can be difficult.

This is especially true if you hire your spouse or partner. Communicating on a professional level is very different than communicating on a personal level. Spending too much time with one person can cause serious friction. If you aren’t careful, trouble at work can bleed into your personal life. Only tackle working with this person if your relationship is on solid footing.

Your relationship may sour.

You give your relative a chance and hire them. But what happens to your relationship if things don’t work out? If you and your family member can’t make things work, you may have to fire them or they may end up quitting. This can permanently damage your relationship. Think of all the holidays when you will still have to see and spend time with this person.

The Bottom Line

Working with a family member will ultimately change your relationship — maybe for better or maybe for worse. You may have arguments or tensions due to the stress of the business that never would have existed otherwise between family members. On the other hand, sharing your life’s work with one of your family members may allow you to become closer than ever and strengthen your bond overall.

My advice is this: Don’t hire a family member just to give them a job. Only bring them on if you really think they would be good at what you do and would work well with your team. Otherwise you’re setting yourself up for future conflict and tough conversations.

Second, if possible, create a natural trial period, such as asking for their help during your busy season or for a summer internship. That way you can both give it a try within a finite time period and there is no awkwardness if either of you chooses not to work together again in the future.

Finally, have realistic expectations. It may not work out and that’s okay — emphasize that you’re always open to a conversation if things aren’t going well, and ensure that they are open to feedback as well. As long as you are both coming from a good place and working to improve together, it can be a positive experience.

Do you have suggestions for making a family business successful? Share them in the comments.