Where does your workforce come from? Do you hire solely from a pool of potential employees you do not know or do employ family members? We represent a number of employers who do employ family members. While working with family members comes with certain advantages, notably a familiarity that tends toward a high-trust relationship.

Should you go through the time and trouble of navigating the labor market when you may already know and feel comfortable about working with a family member? However, by the same token, familiarity can breed contempt. The latter is a factor that you want to avoid at all costs in the workplace, and especially with family. A damaged relationship in your family and in your business isn’t worth it if it can be avoided.

That doesn’t mean to never hire or work with a family member. You can be well-served by having certain expectations, policies, and responsibilities clear and up-front. For example, to successfully manage family at work there must be an objective understanding from the start that what is best for the company comes first at work — not the interests of your family member.

When it comes to creating an office environment that fosters work for you and your family members, let us share several things to keep in mind.

1. Leave egos at the door. Let it be known that there is no place for family drama at work, lest it create a negative work environment for everyone.

2. Buffer the relationship with an outside employee. Running a business or managing others is complicated and involves juggling personalities amid tight deadlines and financial constraints. Introducing family to these pressures can either work well or complicate things further. In any case, when possible, it’s best to have your family member report to a non-related supervisor as much as possible to alleviate added tension or the perception of favoritism.

3. Treat family like everyone else. Put the best people in the right roles regardless of if they are related to you. It’s best for the business, and ultimately it’s best for your family member. Like anybody else, they can choose to perform or not and the consequences will be known ahead of time. No special circumstances needed.

4. Promote based on merit. One of the biggest problems in any company is when employees who lack appropriate skills and requisite work ethic are promoted and given raises based on some favorable relationship with the boss. When the employee fails to deliver, the company and employee morale suffers. Be doubly careful to promote family based on merit.

If you honestly feel that someone in your family is the best person for the job, hire them and hold them to the same standards as everyone else. Work with your employment lawyer to understand how to avoid discrimination on both sides of the equation. If this article raises more questions than it answers, do not wait to schedule a meeting with an experienced member of our legal team.