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Hiring Family and Close Friends

pizza restaurant employee making dough When it comes to hiring family members and close friends, be sure to weigh both the pros and the cons before making a decision for your restaurant. Every concept is different, and some restaurants excel with family members on staff where others do not. Although plenty of family-owned and family-run businesses and restaurants work just fine, the lines between relative and employee can easily be blurred.

Hire Those Most Qualified

Many restaurants or businesses owe part of their success to a relative or close family member. However, it is advisable to use extreme care when considering hiring a family member or close friend. In general, a manger should hire people because they have the necessary skills, not solely because of a relationship. As an operator, be sure to uphold the same standards for family members as for the rest of your employees if you do choose to hire them. Make expectations clear from the start, and have all policies and procedures in writing.

The Pros of Hiring Family
Working relationships

Often, a manager or owner has lived with a family member or close friend for many years. This can actually reduce strain from the working relationship and make it easier to execute the required tasks.

Tax breaks

Sometimes, a restaurant can reap the benefits of tax breaks by employing children or spouse1. However, this alone is not a smart reason to hire family members, and one certainly should not take advantage of this situation.

Reliability

Some managers will tell you that their most reliable, prideful workers have been family members. If one worker is sick or unavailable, a family member often jumps in and helps out. Family may feel a stronger sense of pride or ownership of their positions within the workplace.

The Cons of Hiring Family
Unreasonable responsibility

Hiring a family member or friend means that you are suddenly responsible for his or her employment. Additionally, if you bring on a family member or friend and the relationship turns sour, you may have to make a tough decision as far as whether to keep or to terminate that person.

Family issues at work

Although some families can leave their baggage at the door, others cannot. The restaurant is no place for family feuds as this can interrupt the flow of business and even bring a down the general attitude in the establishment.

Might take advantage

Family members and close friends may even expect you to treat them differently than other employees, which could also pose several problems.2 Family members may try to take advantage of their position to get better shifts, more pay or even to get away with unethical behavior in the workplace.

Favoritism

Conversely, employees and managers especially may show favoritism to their related co-workers. This is not fair to other staff members and can cause ongoing problems in the restaurant, possibly even hurting the customer experience.


1 Internal Revenue Service, “Family Help,” http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=97748,00.html (accessed Oct 15, 2008).
2 William Lynott, "7 Costly Management Mistakes and How You Can Avoid Them," Restaurant Hospitality 91, 4 (2007), 64-66. (accessed Oct 1, 2008.)