The family advantage

Angela TaloccoAmy Snyder

When companies think of hiring employees to grow their business, the focus is often external. Where can we post this position so that it attracts the best applicants? What would happen, however, if we flipped this paradigm and looked within our own families to fill an open position?

This is something that we have been doing at Ruppert for many years, even though it wasn’t something we set out to do. It evolved on its own and has led to multiple generations of relatives working together, which we concluded was more of an advantage than a disadvantage.

While we don’t formally measure this, an informal survey indicated that we have approximately 18 percent of our workforce that are related, from fathers and sons and husbands and wives to brothers-in-law and cousins.

Can it be challenging? Yes. But when practiced fairly and with some parameters, we have found that hiring family members can be a good decision, and here’s why.

Attracting Like-Minded People.

Family members often share the same work ethic, which can help ensure that the fit will be a good one. But in addition, the existing employee possesses a knowledge of the industry and the company that they may have already shared with their family member, which can help streamline the orientation process. In effect, that new family member may begin with a head start in the organization because of that shared knowledge, and it improves the odds that their career will be more successful sooner and last longer.

Long-Term Commitment.

Our company has a value (related to people) that includes the concept that when we hire, we strive to hire for life. We’ve found that when we employ multiple members of the same family, the company’s responsibility increases significantly, as we are entrusted with the care of a family and not just an individual. Conversely, the commitment from the employee(s) to the organization’s long-term success also rises. Additionally, there may be added incentive for the newer employee to live up to a family performance standard. They may also have had a unique opportunity to see first-hand, what a long-term commitment looks like between employer and employee if their family member has been with the organization for many years. When both employer and employee are thinking long term, it ties the two together in a common bond.


When working with people whom you know and enjoy, communication and cooperation often improve. Camaraderie – whether developed over time by working together or built through family relationships – certainly adds spirit, enthusiasm and fun in a workplace, and in the long run, will likely increase productivity.

It’s a big compliment when someone thinks enough of a business to refer a potential customer. Referring a family member to work with a company is equally flattering. Cultivating family relationships on your team can provide a real advantage, drawing together like-minded individuals, working together toward a common goal.

How to hire family

When hiring a family member, there are some best practices that can help minimize potential problems and maximize success.

Avoid having family members directly manage one another. This can minimize the appearance of favoritism within the organization or disagreements within families.

Maintain a level of professionalism. Keep family discussions and disagreements at home and business discussions at work.

Keep it equal. Family members should be held to the same standards as it relates to promotions, pay scale, benefits, training and opportunity for advancement.

The author is director of public relations at Ruppert Landscape.

Hire Power is a monthly column designed to help you recruit, hire and retain the best talent for your company. We’ve got a rotating panel of columnists ready to give you practical, tactical advice on solving your labor problems. Email Chuck Bowen at with topic ideas.


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