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Nicole Allison

Professor Ball

Human Resources MGT 360 OC

Research Paper: Relationships and Family Members in the Workplace


Introduction

Its common that we hear some sort of gossip in the workplace, and we hear it about

several different things. The main type of gossip, however, Im quite sure relates to favoritism in

some way. People are quick to judge or even hate those that they work with because they believe

they are being favorited and possibly even treated better than others. Ive seen favoritism first

hand in the work place, and Ive seen the different forms of it. The issue that this paper will be

representing is favoritism regarding relationships in the workplace, and family members working

together in the workplace. There are strong viewpoints for both sides, which are thinking they

should be allowed and those thinking they should not. This paper will consider each viewpoint,

but have an obvious agreement on which one I believe is right. In doing this, I will be looking at

how these situations affect co-workers, the company, production, and a possible solution to help

resolve any issues while allowing these instances to take place.

Relationships

Its important to understand the key aspects of relationships in general, and how they

should be presented in the workplace. According to the MindTools1 website, which is a site that

gives information to companies/employees on how to effectively communicate and have better

workplace relationships, states that it is important to have good working relationships. The

relationships that they discuss in this website are not regarding romantic relationships, however, I

believe that any romantic relationship most likely starts at this level, and that it should not

initially hurt the company. Human beings are naturally social beings, we socialize at many levels

and we need this socialization like we need food and water. When we socialize, and have good

work relationships, we tend to be happier, therefore work is more enjoyable, and we tend to be
1 https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/good-relationships.htm.
more innovative and creative. A good relationship is defined to have these characteristics: trust,

mutual respect, mindfulness, welcoming diversity, and open communication. The ways to build a

good work relationship are by, developing people skills, identifying your relationship needs,

schedule time to build these relationships, focusing on your emotional intelligence, appreciate

others, be positive, manage your boundaries, avoid gossiping, and listen actively. If these steps

are implemented in not only normal co-worker relationships, but romantic relationships as well,

which they should be, then there should be no issues arising in the workplace regarding

relationships, because even if two people are romantically involved, everyone should already

have work relationships with one another and be able to respect each others decisions without

there being any favoritism at all.

Co-workers usually react differently depending on the type of the relationship and what level the

relationship is at. According to an article on the balance2, most people dont mind workplace

relationships as long as they are not marriage relationships or between a supervisor and his/her

employee. According to surveys conducted, relationships between those of different ranks, such

as supervisor and regular employee are a big no no, as 99% state that these relationships

should not be allowed. Although I completely understand why this is, I dont think that it should

be forbidden until a problem arises. If the relationship is kept professional, as it should be in any

sense when it comes to your job, and the person isnt hired just because the supervisor is the

applicants significant other, then there should be no issue. There are steps that can be taken,

which will be mentioned later on, that can help keep these issues of favoritism from arising.

2 https://www.thebalance.com/tips-about-dating-sex-and-romance-at-work-1916861. (How Co-


workers React and Workplace Romance Policies).
Relationships are usually inevitable, and its no wonder, says Adrian Furnham3 on Psychology

Today, because co-workers are usually with each other for 8 hours every day, and are constantly

communicating and getting to know each other. He states that the office (or whatever your job

environment may be) is perfect for these relationships to build because co-workers tend to have

the same education level, interests, and even values. Also, according to other surveys taken and

listed in the article on the balance4 site, 55% of the HR professionals that responded to the survey

said that marriage is the most likely outcome from the relationships they experienced. Why

would a company want to discourage bringing two people together like this, especially since

people spend close to half their day at work? Granted, some couples know that they would not

like to work with their significant other, because they cannot agree on work habits/methods, so

they dont believe couples should work together, however, not all couples let work get to their

relationships personally and know how to work together. Relationships should be left alone in

the workplace, regardless of where it is at, unless issues arise, and every company should have a

system of handling these issues so that everyone benefits until things become so bad that a move

or termination needs to take place. Hopefully, if a system is implemented correctly, a move or

termination would be unnecessary, unless desired by the couple.

Family Members

When it comes to hiring family members in the workplace, the issues that arise are a lot like

those of romantic relationships between employees, especially if there is family members hired

where there is a family member supervisor and family member that is a regular employee. I have

3 https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sideways-view/201312/workplace-relationships.
(paragraph 4).

4 https://www.thebalance.com/tips-about-dating-sex-and-romance-at-work-1916861. (Workplace
Romance Policies).
seen this favoritism, or nepotism as it is also referred to, first hand at one job, because there was

a mom in a higher up position and told the supervisor below her that handled hiring that she was

going to hire her daughter regardless of the interview. This, in my opinion, should not be allowed

in the workplace, because this is direct favoritism, especially if the child or other family member

is not qualified or underqualified for the position. Fortunately, in my case this was just a fast

food position, so no real skills were required, however, it is still wrong, because she had not had

any previous experience, and someone with more experience could have been chosen and it

would have better benefited the company.

Adam Callinan5, a young entrepreneur, believes there are four reasons why you should

not have a family member work with you (although this is for your own company, it also works

with working in the same company together). These reasons are that, emotions are always

involved, expectations will vary, your family members will be insiders, and the obvious

perceived nepotism. He is only embracing the negative aspects of family working together, and

not accepting anything positive coming out of it. Ive also seen situations in the workplace where

two family members work together, and I think that if anything, they help boost each others

morale if one or the other is feeling down or despaired, because they usually understand the

person and can help them cope if they are having a hard time. Also, as with a relationship in the

workplace, I believe that as long as each employee is still being professional, doing their work,

and no known favoritism is being shown, then it should not be an issue.

Another issue that arises with family members working in the same company is that one family

member may be looked down upon if the other one decides not to show up. An individual family

members actions should not affect the other family member(s), everyone should be held

5 https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/247620. (Entire Article).


responsible for his or her own actions as if they werent related in any way. The Society for

Human Resource Management (SHRM)6 suggests that family referrals may even be an excellent

way to fill positions, and there are some companies that will only hire people based on these

referrals, and they have little to no issues. The issues that arise regarding nepotism are due to

improper systems being set up by HR to handle them, because, as with relationships, there

should be a way to handle these issues so that everyone can benefit.

Qualifications

In order to be accepted into a job, one normally needs to meet a certain set of standards,

according to a company handbook (usually). These qualifications may include experience (or

lack thereof for entry level positions), reliable transportation, a high school diploma, a college

degree, flexibility in hours, etc. This is where chapter 5 in Dias HR7 text comes in: selection. A

company is already spending a lot of time and money in recruitment, that when it comes down to

hiring people, it should be the best interest of the company to find those who are qualified,

regardless of whether they are or are not a family member or significant other of a current

employee. As long as said applicant meets the developed criteria, aces their interview, has a good

resume, and meets all standards, they should be hired, period.

Emotions in the Workplace

If relationships or family members are bad in the workplace because of emotions that are there or

because of the way others react towards their co-workers, then why arent the reactors

emotions wrong instead? What makes their reactions right towards their co-workers, just because

6 https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/policies/pages/cms_015061.aspx.
(Paragraph 2).

7 https://open.umn.edu/opentextbooks/BookDetail.aspx?bookId=71. (Chapter 5, Section 5.1).


they are dating or family? In this case, I feel that the emotions or feelings of the workers who are

the family members or who are the significant others arent considered, and it is due primarily

because of the favoritism. Now, mentioned previously when discussing how to have good

workplace relationships, is one of the steps of how to build a good relationship, which is

focusing on your emotional intelligence. Chapter 9 of Dias8 does a great job of explaining what

this intelligence is and it states that it is one of the most important aspects to good

communication. A researcher on E.I. mentions that there are five main aspects to E.I. and they

are, knowing your emotions, managing your emotions, motivating yourself, recognizing and

understanding other peoples emotions, and managing relationships. Managing ones emotions is

key in a workplace, because there are way more than relationships or family members that may

irritate another employee. Policy, managerial style, customers, and so much more can all be

issues linked to a workers emotional issues. If a company is willing to work with employees and

have regulations set to where they can help employees with issues arising, issues of any kind,

then the company would be better off as well as their workers. Also, another thing comes to mind

when it comes to managing your emotions, and that is, grow up! I know it may sound harsh, but

people need to be responsible for their own actions and worry about themselves and not worry

about other workers lifestyles. If there is clear, undeniable favoritism, such as employees being

hired only because they are known and not based on merit, or if only certain people are being

promoted or praised even though they do not do work or because they are linked in some way,

then these should be brought up with higher members of the company. Favoritism does not only

happen with relatives or significant others, it can happen between best friends, and not even

8 https://open.umn.edu/opentextbooks/BookDetail.aspx?bookId=71. (Chapter 9, Section 9.1).


original ones, but ones that were formed while working. Otherwise, people should be worried

about themselves, their job, and doing what they need to do to take care of themselves.

Movement or Termination and Appraisal

Now that we understand that people SHOULD be hired regardless of their relationship

with current workers, as long as they meet the necessary standards set by the company, now we

can consider what should qualify as standards to move someone out of department or terminate

them due to these relationships. I believe that these employees should be treated equally

compared to every other employee. If someone who is related or in a relationship with another

worker is following along with the performance issues stated in chapter 10 of Dias HR9 text,

such as, constantly being late or leaving early, having other family issues (such as with children),

spending too much time on personal things at work, abusing drugs or alcohol, stealing,

nonperforming, etc., then they should be interviewed accordingly to determine what actions need

to be taken. Regardless, these are the same standards that should be held towards any other

employee. Neither kind of employee should receive any sort of special treatment, but evaluated

on their performance. Not only should everyone be treated equally in determining whether or not

their performance is bad, but they should be treated equally when considered for appraisal, which

is discussed in chapter 11 of Dias HR10 text. When employees are considered for appraisal,

validity issues should be checked regarding their performance. As chapter 11 states, the aspects

of performance should be based on the key skills and responsibilities of the job. This is how all

employees should be considered. Although favoritism or nepotism is a serious issue, not all

people should suffer because of a couple cases of this in the workplace. A simple, yet disciplined

9 https://open.umn.edu/opentextbooks/BookDetail.aspx?bookId=71. (Chapter 10, Section 10.1).

10 https://open.umn.edu/opentextbooks/BookDetail.aspx?bookId=71. (Chapter 11, Section 11.1).


and easy to follow policy should be put in place so that there can be couples and relatives

working together without major issues or complaints.

Policy

First, and foremost, favoritism/nepotism should have consequences of moving employees

out of the department or termination depending on the employees' actions and according to the

employee standards that everyone is held to. There should be a discipline system set for those

who break violations such as public displays of affection, inappropriate sexual behavior,

bullying, and for other obvious reasons such as attendance and nonperforming attitudes. Also, I

believe that all companies should initiate a system where each employee is coached in emotional

intelligence management and have an open-door policy so that their employees can share their

feelings and concerns before they start making formal complaints. If a relative or significant

other is being interviewed for the job then someone who is neutral should do the interview no

matter what, even if they must get an outsider to perform it. This will help with suspicious bias,

and they would be held to all standards and not given special treatment. They should make

employees aware that if they are to work in these circumstances then they must follow all proper

behavior and work regulations that the company has. The ultimate goal is for the company to hire

all the right people to benefit the company's needs, but also encourage positive work

relationships, not discourage romantic relationships, allow family members to work together, all

while enforcing the concept that everyone is equal and should not be judged. I summarize this all

up by stating that, no one should be excluded from being able to work if they are able to do the

job, unless they bring issues to the table. Everyone matters, and it shouldnt be left up to those

who arent in relationships to decide if a person should be allowed to work for a company, it

should be left up to mutual decisions given due to proof of the issue.


References

Furnham, Adrian. (Dec. 13, 2013). "Workplace Relationships?". Psychology Today. Retrieved

from

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sideways-view/201312/workplace-relationships.

Bishop, Lucy, Cook, L., Edwards S., Eyre, E., Jackson, K., Manktelow, J., Moss, I., & Pearcey,

E. (Pub. N/A). Building Great Work Relationships. Mind Tools. Retrieved from

https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/good-relationships.htm.
Author, N/A. (July 3, 2014). Hiring Policy: Hiring Family Members and Former Employees.

SHRM: Society for Human Resource Management. Retrieved from

https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/policies/pages/cms_015061.aspx.

Grensing-Pophal, Lin. (Sep. 1, 2007). All in the Family. SHRM: Society for Human Resource

Management. Retrieved from

https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/hr-magazine/Pages/0907pophal.aspx.

Heathfield, Susan. (August 17, 2016). Tips About Dating, Sex and Romance at Work. the

balance. Retrieved from

https://www.thebalance.com/tips-about-dating-sex-and-romance-at-work-

1916861.

Author, N/A. (Pub. N/A). Nepotism: Favoring relatives and friends in the workplace.

hrsimple. Retrieved from https://hrsimple.com/blog/nepotism.

Author, N/A. (Pub. N/A). Employment of relatives company policy. Workable. Retrieved from

https://resources.workable.com/employment-of-relatives-company-policy.

Callinan, Adam. (June 24, 2015). 4 Reasons You Should Never Hire a Family Member.

Entrepreneur. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/247620.

Dias, L. (2011). Human resource management. Saylor.org/books. ISBN 13: 978-1-4533194-3-

7. Downloaded Jan. 9, 2014 from

https://open.umn.edu/opentextbooks/BookDetail.aspx?bookId=71.