Hiring Employees

The Pros and Cons of Employing Your Friends

Written by Jay Shapiro for Gaebler Ventures

They say never to mix business with pleasure. Does that mean employing your friends is a big no no, or can close relationships survive in the workplace and bring something to the company?

Even if your business is a small one you will probably still need to employ staff members.

Some entrepreneurs prefer to steer clear of mixing their social life with business and make it a rule never to employ their friends. Others feel that there are benefits to be had from working with people who know them well.

4 advantages of employing friends –

  • Close friends will know you well and understand how you tick. They'll already be accustomed to your idiosyncrasies and will, if the relationship is a long-standing one of depth, almost be able to second guess you.
  • The healthy friendship that is based on respect can develop into an equally healthy working relationship.
  • Friends make good personal assistants – they say a good P.A. or secretary is a better P.A. or secretary if the more they know about the boss.
  • You can rely on a good friend to represent your company to the highest standard.

4 disadvantages of employing friends –

Perhaps we should say 'so called' friends in this instance, in which cases the disadvantages can be many, but here we highlight just four.

  • There's a risk of the 'friend' taking advantage of the relationship. For instance: turning up late for work because they feel they can get away with it. After all, you're friends, you won't mind!
  • Professional jealousy. Some friends haven't the sort of character that allows them to be comfortable with the boss/employee relationship. If resentment of this type builds up it can be damaging to both the friendship and the business. Be sure your friend won't mind playing second fiddle before you employ them.
  • Acting like they're the boss. Outside of work your friend may be the one who always decides what restaurant to go to or what movie to see. When that dynamic shifts in the workplace and you are the one making the decisions they may overlook this. If your friend/employee starts acting like they run the show, you've got troubles.
  • Money issues. Some people are uncomfortable with earning less money than their friends or holding lower ranking positions. If ego is going to get in the way of the relationship being productive then this sort of friend is probably not suited working for you.

Friendships need to be solid to withstand the stresses and strains of the boss/employee relationship. Both parties must understand that the situation needs to be treated professionally.

Common causes of problems:

  • Many problems with the friend-as-employee scenario stem from liberty taking.
  • Boss feeling uncomfortable with governing his/her friends.
  • Pressures arising due to expectations of promotion based on the friendship rather than merit – "I'm your friend, you should give me the raise/promotion."

While we've pinpointed the negative aspects of employing your friends it isn't always out of the question to do so. However, the friendships need to be very strong ones, preferably long-standing in order for it to work for all concerned. And work issues need to be left at the office when you turn in for the day and go out for a beer or a glass of wine in the evening together.

Jay Shapiro is a freelance writer based in the UK. Jay has a particular interest in the emotive aspects of the entrepreneur's character. "Alongside the nuts and bolts of business, the character of the person is often the ingredient responsible for success."

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