The effect of nepotism has been opinion based rather than facts and incidents therefore views on the subject vary from situation to situation. Nepotism at work refers to favouring relatives in employment or economic terms as opposed to them being judged on ability and/or merit in a specific organisation.
This could include a position over somebody else who may be more suitable for the position, whereby you would be paying a relative more money than somebody doing the same job or granting them special favours.
However, nepotism can be viewed in terms of people giving somebody a boost up to allow them to get into an organisation but will be treated in the same manner as everybody else.
Although nepotism is in the sense of the word, refers to relatives, it can also mean to allow friends to be incorporated into an organisation or to be granted simply favour in general.
Smaller, family owned businesses are the organisations this more common occurs and that is perfectly understandable.
In a small business in particular, limited options exist for career advancement.
When employees see that the owner’s daughter or son has been promoted to a managerial post, the idea of favouritism and special treatment is impossible to overcome — especially if the new manager shows signs of been less qualified than the other applicants that applied.
The existence of a nepotism policy ensures that all employees are treated equally and that the owner of the organisation cannot influence the hiring, promotion or discipline of a close relative.
The policy allows for reduction of favouritism by enquiring all employees to disclose relevant conflicts, such as a close personal or business relationship with all current employees, and more importantly it restrict the employee’s involvement with employment decisions relating to their relative.
Family owned businesses have always had a tradition of the reins being passed down from generation to generation and their succession totally relies a lot on the emotional ties which bonds a family together.
That being said, if the company also employs staff outside of the family as well, it’s important for the companies well-being to maintain a strict working relationship where the family member(s) is treated no more than equal to all of the rest of the staff who may hold a similar position to them in order that the workplace remains peaceful and there are no accusations of special treatment.
In most cases, you will often find that family members have to work ten times harder than the average outsiders to prove themselves worthy of holding specific positions and to avoid such assumptions from arising.
1.2.1. The different between favouritism, cronyism, and nepotism?
As favouritism is the broadest of these three terms, we’ll start with its definition.
Favouritism is just what it sounds like; it’s favouring a person not because he/she is doing the best job but rather because of some kind of personal relationship either with the manager or the owner of the company that you would be employed in.
Favouritism is currently represented in three different ways hiring, honouring, or awarding contracts. The most common cases are giving public service jobs to those who may have helped you during an election for a person in power.
Favouritism has always been a major problem in government services over the years. In 2010, a survey was done and it was found that only 46% of government workers thought that promotions received in their department were based on merit.
They believed that it is who you are connected to or rather who u know and more importantly the partnerships you made while been in the government departments, and other factors played a major role.
The second term is cronyism which is a more specific form of favouritism that refers partial towards friends and partial towards associates. As the old saying goes, “It’s not what you know but who you know,” or, rather “It’s not what you don’t know; it’s who your college roommate knows.”
Cronyism occurs within a network of insiders who provide favours to one another due to association.
The last phrase is nepotism which is an even narrower form of favouritism.
It originated from the Italian word which means nephew, it covers favouritism to members of the family. Both nepotism and cronyism often occur at offices where political parties recruit candidates for public officials.
1.2.2. The Most Common Reasons for Nepotism in the Workplace
According to the service industries in government departments are subjected to nepotism at various work levels.
The economic and political structures are given as the common reasons for such favouritism in such departments.
What happens in bigger firms and organizations?
Employees are affected by nepotism in one way or another in bigger organizations as well.
This cronyism allows both short term and long term negativities amongst employees and in turn impact the organizational growth as well as the performance levels of that specific organisation.
Let us take a closer look about how nepotism spoils employee morale and workplace culture.
Here are examples of different case studies and decisions
International Case Studies – Nepotism
Case Study #1:
An employee was hired in May 2010 to work as an assistant sales manager for a waste management company that also supplied portable toilets and provided septic tank services. The employee’s job required him to develop and implement businesses amongst existing and new clients. He could earn a bonus based on his sales input on a monthly basis.
In February 2012, the employee became romantically involved with senior office manager. They moved in together a month later. Although their relationship was commonly known in the office, at no time did the employer advice either parties that their employment might be in jeopardy as a result of their relationship.
In October, the first employee was fired due to his common-law relationship with the senior office manager. The employer concluded that because office manager was one of two financial control officers as well and was privy to confidential financial information, that placed her in a conflict of interest with the employee as one of her duties was to input data regarding all sales which were linked to employee bonuses. The employer was of the view that the common law relationship between the employee and the manager was not an acceptable business practice and created an unacceptable business and financial risk to the organisation.
The employee immediately filed a complaint of discrimination on the basis of marital status.
The Board of Inquiry resolved that there was definitely a case of discrimination that was made out because:
Although living in a common-law relationship for only a short period of time, the employees in question were living together and this was regarded as the “marital status” in the Human Rights Act;
The employee was treated differently than other employees and terminated as a result of his relationship with the office manager and, as a result, was discriminated against on the basis of marital status
To determine if this form of discrimination was justified, the Board of Inquiry determined that the employer was unable to meet the standard requirements because:
The employer’s standard policy requirements stated that the office manager could not enter into a living relationship with an employee due to the confidential nature of her position. This standard did not necessary connect to the performance of the employees’ jobs;
There was no bad faith on the part of the employer in implementing its standard;
The standard was not reasonable and could accomplish the work-related purpose because the employer “overlooked relatively simple checks and balances” that could have been put in place to protect the business. For example, the employer’s General Manager could have been asked to review the input of data relating to bonuses that the employee might have been entitled to.
The Board ordered the employer to compensate the employee an subsequently amount in general damages, also to write the employee a letter of apology and to participate in a well needed training course with the Human Rights Commission on the duty to accommodate.
The employer appealed the decision to the Court as soon as the verdict was concluded.
The Court also found that the Board ruled correctly that the employee and office manager were living in a common-law relationship and protected from discrimination on the basis of marital status;
The Court disagreed with the Board’s analysis of the first step, ruling that the workplace standard at issues was to limit access to confidential information and to avoid creating a situation where the office manager could possibly be placed in a position of conflict between the interests of their employer and the interests of the employee, who they were in a relationship with. The purpose of the policy was mainly to identify it as being unacceptable business and financial risks. The policy was found to be rationally connected to the performance of the office manager’s job as their work involved inputting information that formed part of the basis on which the employee’s bonus was calculated;
The Court agreed with the Board’s overall conclusion that the employer could have accommodated the marital relationship here without incurring undue hardship. As the General Manager already reviewed the office manager’s work, he could simply have reviewed any data that would have affected the employee’s bonuses.
The Court upheld the damages award and the requirement of an apology letter but found that ordering the so needed training course was inappropriate.
WHAT TO relevant FROM THEse CASES:
The creation of an anti-nepotism policy should be considered by employers before they are implemented and given their application will always give rise to cases of discrimination.
The fact that two employees are related on any level will not be enough to justify an application of an anti-nepotism policy. The family member or marital relationship in question must be relevant to the ability of one of the related individuals to perform his or her job duties.
Anti-nepotism policies should be designed to limit the impact on the affected family member. A policy that only takes into consideration the employer’s interests will not stand up to scrutiny.
Employers must be prepared to show that when they applied the policy, they gave considered the circumstances of the affected employee and they accommodated the employee to the point of undue hardship. Rigid application of an anti-nepotism policy will cause an otherwise justified policy to fail.
I’ve been in this situation to many times to mention and in prior cases as well, which didn’t turn out well. And more recently, I don’t know what the outcome is just yet.
Case Study #2 – Very early in my career, a friend of mine was looking to get into the same industry I was currently employed in.
I had been employed for a couple years and due to a lot of hard work and some downright luck, I had become what I would consider a master mind and gained a better job title after some time.
I was confined to sharing all my details of the company and had not yet got many contacts in other areas except for the one I was employed in.
A friend asked if I could forward their curriculum vitae to the organisation which I was employed in to see if they could get their foot in the door.
I knew the friend pretty well and thought they’d make a good addition to the organisation and figured “what did I have to lose?
Inside my head, it was another story, there were also some other thoughts going on in the background that I should have paid attention to.
On the positive side, I had thoughts like “he is a great person, he would be cool to work with, I’d love to see him working here”, “and he would do it for me in a heartbeat?”
On the negative side, I was thinking, “am I making the biggest mistake hiring him?”
Since I had no contacts in the area that I was employed in, I had to approach an old college contact that I hadn’t kept in touch with and ask who the decision-makers of my firm were, I then made contact with a hiring manager, introduce myself and basically sold my friend curriculum vitae and line up an interview.
I highlighted all positive interactions I’d had achieved and some demonstrated leadership examples and past work experience that I was familiar with that seemed valid at the time.
I don’t know if my call had anything to do with it, but I understood that my friend got a call back for an interview later in that week.
Well, a few weeks later, I asked how the interview went when we saw my friend and I was horrified to hear that my friend “missed the interview”.
They claimed something happened with their calendar or cell phone or something and completely missed the interview.
I felt like I had totally wasted the one opportunity I probably had at helping someone out with that group and now I looked like a fool for recommending someone so unprofessional.
Straight after this event, my friend got an offer from another company.
So, I started to wonder if this was really an honest mistake or they just blew off my company once they got other job proposals, but either way, it left me regretting my decision to help them out in the first place.
I had spent considerable time, effort, and professional capital in trying to make something happen and it was all in vein.
Case Study #3 – A year or two later, I was approached by another friend’s relative who was looking to get into my field actually.
They had obtained an engineering degree and wanted to get into a higher paying industry and seemed intelligent, mature and very responsible.
I didn’t know them very well, but because they were a relative of a good friend of mine and they genuinely seemed like a good candidate, I figured I would at least pass their curriculum vitae on.
We had hung out a few times and I knew them at least well enough to pass on the curriculum vitae to the right people.
This time though, due to the fact that I was burnt before, I decided to just pass on the curriculum vitae to the right person, but made no further attempts to ensure the person an interview.
I researched a bit into their interests, ability to relocate, etc. and then put the curriculum vitae into the hands of some of the hiring managers.
I was actually a part of the hiring process at the time, but didn’t think it would be ethnical to hire that individual myself, nor did they seem like a perfect fit for my particular area that the position was available for.
Strictly on merit the person made it into the next stage and without my knowledge attached my name as a reference. When questioned I was honest and explained we didn’t have any personal relationship.
I had just replied that I met them a couple times and they seemed qualified, but given professionalism and personal history with them, I couldn’t really make an endorsement one way or other.
Well, when the friend’s relative called one day to check in, they pretty much alluded to the fact that the only reason they wanted to get in was so my company would pay for their further education, which is somewhat common in my field, but was not offered in their current role.
They were basically looking for me to facilitate for them to take advantage of my company.
Again, while I had played a very minor role in just passing an curriculum vitae along, I felt responsible for another bad situation involving nepotism or whatever you want to call it.
I didn’t play a major role and was curious how it panned out.
Through whatever means during the interview process, I assume one of the interviewers picked up on the agenda and they opted to not extend an offer to this specific person.
If they had extended an offer, what would I have been required to do, ignore the situation? Or intervene? I continued to question myself how and why I also got involved in these situations and was relieved when it ironed itself out through no fault of mine.
After these two specific cases, I’d pretty much had it with the “hook me up” thing.
While hearing similar story from other friends of mine, I can only imagine that the outcome is always a negative one.
For the one case that works out well, where 5 years later, someone looks back and says, “Hey, that college buddy of mine is doing a great job and loves it here after I helped him land an interview”, there are probably many more cases where someone got burned.
Situation – This brings me to the most current situation.
We have an acquaintance that was recently laid off and just now started looking for work again.
The other day, they approached me and asked if I’d forward their curriculum vitae around and speak with the hiring managers visible on the external job board.
On one hand, again, with someone with a young child out of work, nice person, responsible, etcâ€¦how you can just say, “No, I’m not helping?”
I barely know them on a personal level and had been burned so many times before.
So, I’ve agreed to pass along the curriculum vitae to someone I actually do know in the particular field whom I asked to review and forward along if they felt appropriate and I also checked around on another upcoming job posting that will go external and I passed that along as well.
But I decided not to contact any hiring managers, as I don’t know them, and I barely know the person as well.
If things pan out their way, great – it will be by natural means through the established system, and if not, I was at least honest in my reply that I had passed it along to some individuals I did know who may be looking for someone with similar qualifications – which I did.
But due to my past experiences and my conflicted feelings over the ethical aspect, I’m not going the extra mile in trying to give them a significant advantage over other candidates coming in with no such advantages.
Here are some positive outcomes of nepotism – I think there are some clear pros and cons to having current employees recommending or hiring people they know for jobs.
On the positive side, you already know the person on a personal level and that could be an advantage.
You would like to think this person won’t make you look bad and would appreciate the opportunity that you have been awarded them.
Perhaps oneday, they will help you out in a similar situation? Let’s think about the networker themselves – isn’t a “go-getter” a sign of someone with initiative – someone who’s going to sell your product, advance your agenda, and more importantly get results? Well, maybe, but that’s the going viewpoint.
Here are some negative outcomes of nepotism – Is it right? Is it ethical? If you have two candidates – one is rather outgoing, has tons of friends and family and has all the people voting for them for a special role; do they deserve a boost up on this next guy?
Candidate 2 is rather quiet and doesn’t really go out of his way to play the popularity card along people.
They just work hard and get their hands dirty and maintain by doing the right thing, they will be granted the right career opportunities which their solely deserve.
All other things being equal, in the real world, the truth is Candidate 1 is more likely going to get the job.
But is that right? Some organisations actually have policies against nepotism and there are nepotism law cases, but the reality that it is quite pervasive in society today, almost expected.
Perhaps you have your job because of nepotism. Perhaps you were passed over for a job because you didn’t know the right people. Perhaps you don’t even know it.
Disclosure: I landed my first job in industry by chance I was qualified and made a good impression and didn’t know a single person that worked at my company.
I found flyer advertising for an organisation in one of my campus halls senior year and checked it out and it eventually led to a job.
In hindsight, that was sheer luck that I happened to come across that specific flier which I needed a job the most.
If I hadn’t landed a job post-graduation, would I have required someone I knew to “hook me up”? I don’t know, probably. Wouldn’t you?
Case Study #4 -Some years ago I was working with a pleasant, remarkable, young man who had just joined the newspaper from a local rag.
He was inexperienced and finding it hard to adjust to the relentless deadlines, but we were happy to help out and answer his questions all day.
Three months later, we were informed that he had been made our boss. It didn’t make any sense at the time. He was still not able to handle the everyday pressure and was the least on the desk, but he had the job.
I found out later that he was related to the editor, which goes a long way to explaining his effortless rise to the top. This was a simple lesson in life. It had nothing to do with my performance or merit and everything to do with the fact that they were related;
I simply could not compete on such a level. Ten years later, he has made it and prospered, and had definitely proven his worth.
The media industry is common known for such nepotism. Most times parents try to secure internships and even teen columns for their student offspring, while husband and wives seek the best joint ventures they can find.
The same incidents can be seen in different circles, organisations, and political lives.
On the other hand, I have been coaxing a board of members that is divided over the appointment of a new director who worked with the CEO before his appointment.
Even though he is clearly the most talented and experienced member of the board, no one believes he got his job on merit.
So is nepotism a good or a bad thing? I take a serious view, believing that we are hard-wired to look after our family and friends.
He believes that nepotism has produced both positive and negative results in everything from ancient Chinese clans to Renaissance papal lineages and American families like the Gores, Kennedys, and Bushes. Practised badly, nepotism is embarrassing to everyone, including the individual, but done well it can benefit society as a whole.
In business, no one seems sure how to talk about nepotism or discuss it openly as it is a very sensitive subject.
But what do you do if you find yourself managing the boss’s son? Do you treat them in the same way as everyone else and risk alienating them or annoying your boss? Or do you handle them with kid gloves just in case?
Nepotism conflicts fundamentally with basic American values and merit that some companies have instituted formal anti-nepotism policies.
But even in organisations that claim not to tolerate nepotism, there are often clear, if not many examples of nepotism.
Take Paul Wolfowitz, whose attempts to secure a pay and promotional deal for his partner, Shaha Reza, meant he lost his job at the World Bank.
It’s interesting to see the cultural bias at work here, too. Nepotism is considered a good thing in Asian and African companies, which are more likely based on family network.
In the companies in certain Cities they have traditionally recruited from families within Britain’s social elite.
On a recent BBC radio programme on nepotism, Dr Gillian Evans of Manchester University explained that social and family networks provide a critical safety net for upper middle classes and children who might have failed their exams or fluffed their first job.
A well-placed contact could smooth over their failure, find them a job, and restore them to their “rightful” place in society.
This can be very frustrating for those of us who don’t have the luxury of a security net, who have to struggle through with grit and hard work.
But is there anything we can do besides becoming consumed with envy? Is there anything we could learn for this? I suppose the most positive thing is to start developing a personal network that would work for you. There are three main things to remember.
First and more importantly, network yourself to those in power all the time – tell them who you are and what you can do — so that if the big job comes up, your name will be on their lips all the time.
Secondly, build a strong connection with all the influential contacts that you acquired, making sure they like you and care for you on a personal level.
Finally, make sure that, if you get the job, you have the skills to make a success of it.
You will have far less margin for error than the boss’s son.
How do you feel about nepotism at work? Have you experienced it in a positive or negative way? Or are you experiencing difficulty because you were the one who got a job through someone you knew?
Nepotism and the affects it has on Employee Morale?
Why do people prefer having their relatives or friends at their workplace?
What do they want to achieve, apart from allowing their relatives or friends to work with them?
According to an HR consulting firm, employing relatives or friends saves costs on recruiting and training.
It is also believed to help reduce employee turnover since the relatives are highly committed to organization growing.
However, most of the time, having a relative in the organization spoils the morale of employees.
What are all the reasons?
When you give a relative a important position or promotion, u naturally bypass an employee with strong merits, and this spoils employee morale as a whole.
Employees feel used and overlooked merely because they not specifically related to you and therefore they start looking for other opportunities to join another organisation sooner than they intended to.
Employees affected by favouritism see no career opportunities in the organization and in turn lose interest in the company’s growth.
The level of been committed is lowed and the loyalty and more importantly the sense of ownership are lower since the employees doesn’t feel like they are achieving any personal growth.
The employees who supervisors the relatives of the employer find it difficult to handle them and take corrective action if necessary. This greatly affects team morale which can lead to a high level of employee attrition.
How would you feel if your spouse faced you during an important official meeting?
Well, organizations have different opinions on a husband and wife working together.
In order to avoid conflicts or workplace stress, some organizations have created policies against both spouses working together for them.
A few companies, namely the IT organizations that work with an onshore-offshore model, prefer having both the husband and wife working for them.
This allows the organisation send them together to onsite projects.
It helps the employers to retain their services on long-term onsite project.
Nepotism can cause ill feelings on inequality that employees may react to in one way or another.
The first problem you could face is to undermine the favoured worker’s capabilities and attempt to sabotage her projects.
These efforts could result in getting her fired, however, it could result in costly mistakes and loss of time which can then potentially impact customers’ relations in organisations.
The second reaction is an attitude of defeat.
If employees assume that promotions and perks will always go to friends of the boss, they will likely less incline to do their best work to show their potential. Resentment and indifferences can lead to the reduction of productivity as well as employee turnover if workers decide that nothing will ever get better.
Nepotism Effects On The Organizational Culture?
Some employers feel that the level of loyalty, morale, trust and commitment of friends or relatives they hire is higher compared to others in the workplace.
Control: Unfortunately, not all family members and relatives come with the right merit to be employed for a particular position or a role.
When the manager is not allowed to control an employee just because she is a relative of an employer, imagine what will happen to the company’s discipline.
Nepotism allows rules to be broken and can lead to a hectic situation for business owners.
Ethics: When relatives are involved, the company’s ethics can get spoiled and even go into ruins.
Let us take an example of one of the India-based IT giant.
Despite the raise by the board members, its founder went ahead and acquired infrastructure companies owned by his sons.
This led the company to lose its share by more than half and the investors to experience a greater loss.
Not only was the workplace culture affected, but employee morale was also highly affected.
The attrition recorded was very high.
Allowing nepotism at any level creates excess damage to the organizations culture.
Nepotism at the higher management or leadership level will greatly spoil the company image and growth.
When you start losing the trust of your employees. The biggest problem which you as an employer will be facing with hiring people from your family is the possibility of your employees losing trust in you.
Nepotism becomes a major problem when your employees feel that the relative who was employed isn’t qualified for the job, or that someone better was rejected due to the fact that they were not related to the owner of the organisation.
If it comes to this than it will be very hard for you to try and earn back the trust of your employees.
And if you are unable to get your employees to trust you than for me the only solution is to start over again because without trust any business is doomed.
The problem with hiring unfit people for the job. The second most specific problem with nepotism in the workplace is that you may end up with people that don’t have any qualification to suit the job specifications.
Don’t let your feelings get in the way when it comes to business transactions.
Don’t hire someone just because you believe he or she is a part of your family.
Any business is just about simple math.
You need to make sure that the people you hire bring value to your team and they produce a good quality product which you can make a profit of.
So feelings have nothing to do with it. If the person you hired is not bringing extra value fire him or her without any regrets.
How to lower employee morale. Nepotism in the workplace will hurt you in the first few weeks no matter how qualified the person you hired is.
It is inevitable for employee morale to drop when you hire someone from your family.
The employee will immediately make the connection that you are preparing the person you hired for the job you