HR Issues for the Small Practice: Hiring (Part 1)

Some fledgling organizations opt for hiring family members.  In some cases, they may be less expensive than external employees, and for some providers, there is a higher trust or loyalty factor to hiring kin.  Although we understand the many reasons, we strongly caution against this tactic.  Some of our clients have employed family members believing these people “have their back.”  It’s not uncommon to witness double-standards in these companies, which are not lost on the non-family employees.  Moreover, creating two “classes” of employees can have devastating effects on morale and on family relationships.

One former client employed his wife, three of her sisters and one sister’s boyfriend, in addition to non-family members.  What do you think happened when one sister came in late, or spent inordinate amounts of time on her cell phone during the workday?  Who picked up her slack, and how do you think he felt about it? Finally, who could the non-family member employee complain to?  The double-standard created by this kind of behavior is caustic, and leads to a culture of “untouchables,” who sometimes take advantage of their position.  Quality and productivity decline as the class war plays itself out in your business.

Trust and loyalty are earned, and it’s unwise to believe they are directly related to a bloodline.  One client of ours partnered unofficially with his only niece in running the company.  When the niece married, she secured a job for her new husband.  It wasn’t long before the niece and her hubby were running roughshod over the business, alienating non-family members, burying paperwork errors and attempting to extort higher salaries for themselves.  On the other hand, we’ve seen many a practice enjoy the dedication of long-tenured staff who behave, in some cases, better than a family member!  In a nutshell, don’t factor genetics into your hiring decisions; it may cost you more in the long run.

In the next installment of this three-part series on common HR issues, we will review payroll and the myriad ways small companies can get into trouble with a lax system.

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