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How to create a strong family business environment with non-family employees

By Samantha Garner | March 29, 2014

family businessMost of the businesses in North America are family-owned and operated, so it’s clearly a popular choice for entrepreneurs who want to follow their passions while also working alongside family members. However, family businesses aren’t always 100% staffed by family. As we discussed in an earlier post, one of the snags of family business is a high turnover rate of non-family employees. The dynamic of a family business can be interesting and sometimes tricky. Even the advice column Dear Abby recently dealt with a family member employee who was having difficulty proving himself to non-family employees. So how do you maintain the family “culture” while also preventing a divide between family and non-family? Here are some quick tips:

  • Avoid hiring family members who are unsuited to the role they’re filling. Not only will this prevent you wasting time and money, it’ll also show non-family employees that you don’t play favourites.
  • Extend the definition of “family” to all employees. Showing favouritism to family members or keeping them more in the loop than non-family employees will only breed resentment and damage morale.
  • It’s important that all employees pull their weight, but as the Dear Abby example proves, family employees might be watched a little more critically than others. Ensure everyone is responsible, respectful, and does good work.
  • Make every employee – family or not – feel welcomed, appreciated, and part of the team. Happy employees who love what they do are more likely to band together.
  • Prevent tensions before they arise. As with the previous point, promoting a supportive and inclusive environment for everyone will prevent an “us vs. them” scenario. Make sure all employees know they can come to you with any issues, even if it’s a concern about your nephew’s extra-long lunch breaks.

Visit GoForth Institute’s Entrepreneur Library for more tips on managing your family business!

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