Employing family members

Preventing communication breakdowns with family employees


If you employ a family member it is sometimes easy to ignore the importance of open and regular communication. A typical response to a difficult scenario is to avoid dealing with it rather than confront a situation or an issue early on.

This creates a breeding ground for bad feeling and resentment that could destabilise the business' operations and put your family relations at risk. It can also create an unpleasant working environment for non-family staff and could encourage them to take sides.

Best practice in communication

You may find it useful to assess whether or not your management style encourages a culture of listening and consensus.

You might achieve this by:

  • finding out family employees' different goals and needs, and then seeing if you can coordinate them - you could ask an independent party to do this
  • creating opportunities for views and concerns to be heard
  • addressing those views and concerns
  • seeking consensus for decisions, whenever practical
  • encouraging an open, sharing atmosphere rather than a blame culture

See further guidance on engaging with staff.