when your awful coworker is the boss’s kid

There are a lot of perks to being the boss: You can (often) set your own hours, delegate work you don’t enjoy, get a nicer office, and dine out on the company dime. But in some workplaces, being the boss also means being able to hire your adult children — often to the detriment of the rest of your team.

The problems with hiring one’s grown offspring are probably obvious: other employees assume they weren’t hired on merit, people are nervous to speak freely around them, and they’re frequently not held to the same standard as everyone else. They end up getting special treatment — or, regardless of the reality, everyone else will assume that’s happening.

At Slate today, I wrote about what can happen when the boss hires family members. You can read it here.

{ 144 comments… read them below }

  1. Falling Diphthong*

    I recall a nepotism hire explaining that their out-of-office time wasn’t them having drinks and manicures–they were being sent to do errands for The Family, like picking up Uncle Bob at the airport and walking the dog and mailing things. But since the other employees don’t get that sort of flexibility, there’s very little difference between “Margaret is being paid to read fanfic at the coffee shop, and I have to pick up her work and don’t get that flexibility” and “Margaret is being paid to run errands for her aunt, and I have to pick up her work and don’t get that flexibility.”

    1. VP of Monitoring Employees' LinkedIn Profiles*

      “And then Margaret gets full credit for that work (even though I did it), while I get written up for not finishing my own work (because I had to do Margaret’s instead).”

    2. Cat Tree*

      Yep. We all wish we had the flexibility to pick up our uncle at the airport, walk our dog, and drop off our mail during work time.

      (I actually do have this flexibility, but not because I’m a nepotism hire. I work for a company that actually does things to increase employee retention, so this is generally available to everyone.)

      1. Paulina*

        But would we all be okay with our grandboss making us drop what we’re doing in order to pick up their brother at the airport, walk their dog, and do their personal mailing for them? We all wish we had flexibility for our own purposes, not so we can serve someone else’s purposes and be treated as though our job was a meaningless sinecure.

        1. Reluctant Mezzo*

          My husband actually had that job to drive around the grandboss’s elderly father to keep him out of everyone’s hair (Mike honestly preferred painting the pipes to keep the inspectors happy, was a meatpacking place). But it wasn’t a nepo hire, they just really wanted someone to keep Grandpa happy.

    3. Hillia*

      My husband works for a small family owned business that was opened basically as a toy for the youngest son of the family. The family owns a very successful business in a completely different field, youngest didn’t want to join that, so his parents bought a small business in a field related to his main hobby. His mother does the admin work and has told my husband verbatim, “I’m always going to back [son], even if I know he’s completely wrong” (spoiler: he’s often wrong). She’s also tried to pull some sneaky wage and hour tricks, like not paying hourly employees for time spent working trade shows (“It’s not fair we have to pay you for that!”).

      It’s especially aggravating to have the owners go from “We spent $13k buying this ring at the silent auction at the trade show” to “We’re overpaying our employees and it’s going to bankrupt us!” (they are actually underpaying, and pay rate depends entirely on how much the owner likes you) in the same conversation.

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        That sucks. Though at least the mother is being honest about the fact that she’s going to side with her son no matter what. It’s a crappy situation, but still better than if she was lying about the situation.

        1. Sarah M*

          It’s like parents who think babysitting is just “having fun with the kids” (as a rationale for not paying the agreed upon rate). There’s no arguing with delusional.

          1. Falling Diphthong*


            Yeah, if the parent believed that then they would have offered that as a condition up front. “Come babysit for 10 hours, being paid in the fun of playing with the kids. I’ll even get a gallon of ice cream.” But no, it’s always “I’m offering $15/hour” and then “Gosh I deleted that thread–we said $3/hour, right” and “Come on, you got ice cream and the joy of young voices, do you really need to keep harping on how I offered you $150?”

            I view trade shows as staying up very light trying to get the new tech demo to do what it did back in the lab. No one pretended that this was something more fun than living off pizza in a conference room for days at a time, rather than hours.

        2. Dust Bunny*

          Because you’re an ass.

          I’m sure she’s claiming they’re “not at work” (as in, not in the office) or some other BS, but it’s actually because she’s a jerk.

      2. Boof*

        I think at this point, it would be hard, not to ask “not fair for who?” At being told it’s a “not fair” to pay me for work.

  2. tina turner*

    I got let go after great reviews, because the owner’s kid dropped out of college & the owner was on the city School Board, etc., so it embarrassed him. Right after I told him I was applying for a mortgage & asked if we were OK. He didn’t say no but started giving bad reviews right after his kid was dropping out.
    Now the owner’s dead. Kid not enjoying the biz, I’m sure. Karma.

    1. Reluctant Mezzo*

      I had a job like that–the real estate office was not doing well, so I got fired and the boss’s daughter had to take over my work. They closed about a year later.

  3. Reality.Bites*

    We had two offspring of the company founder work in our office temporarily. One had to be spoken to about dressing appropriately at work – it was delegated to our scheduling manager, as the higher ups were too scared.

    I just googled to see what they’re up to now – brother just ousted sister from the board. (It’s a HUGE public company)

      1. Reality.Bites*

        I am sadly not part of the family and haven’t worked there since the mid-90s.

        But the company has assets of 65 billion dollars and annual revenue of about 15 billion.

        1. Proofin’ Amy*

          I’m guessing this company is named with two letters from the alphabet and sells electronics and appliances?

  4. anon for this*

    I’m on the board of a small non-profit, too small to have HR. A few months ago, the ED hired their adult child for a part time role that was very challenging to fill. Child had the required qualifications, but still. (It’s a healthcare non-profit and licensed staff shortages are bad right now).

    What we did as a board was institute a policy that the adult child could not be managed by their parent, and any issues relating to salary/raises, promotion, demotion, discipline and termination had to go through the #2 employee and the board. ED was taken aback at first because they try to keep it professional with their child at work and had few overlapping shifts, but we made this policy universal so that no one could manage a relative/roommate and issues around wages, discipline, scheduling, grievances etc. had to go through a different member of senior staff. So far it’s been working pretty well—things like this can be navigated successfully when leadership understands why this could present a conflict. But so often they sadly do not.

    1. Shoes*

      How did you all deal with the ED taken aback? Was there a conversation(s)?

      I am dealing with a similar situation and could use some ideas on having the conversation.

      1. Mostly Managing*

        I’d go the flattery route.
        “We know you are super professional and would never let your relationship cloud your judgement. Which is why we need to do this now, before there’s a different situation where there is a problem. If people see that you – who are great – have followed these rules, they can’t be offended when we require it of them too. Thanks for continuing to lead by example!”
        (or words to that effect, anyway!)

      2. Office Plant Queen*

        I think the way to handle it, given that the person is surprised because they act professionally, is to point out that it’s not just about them. What if there are performance issues and the manager is unsure how much authority they have because of the family connection? What if there’s a legitimate conflict/disagreenent, and people are worried their voice won’t be heard because it’ll just go up to the head of the company who will agree with their relative? There’s only so much the parent can do to reassure people through their behavior, because nobody is going to want to test it and risk getting fired or something

      3. anon for this*

        Great question! We discussed both the hiring and the need for a policy around this in the span of one board meeting, and we were explicit that this wasn’t solely about the ED’s adult child and that it could set a bad precedent for others managing relatives. Apparently there had been cases of part-timers both being employed by the org before, but no one in management, and there was an informal policy of trying not to schedule them on the same shifts, but that wasn’t always possible and there had been some challenges. Once the ED realized the potential liability not having a formal policy and that this wasn’t targeted at them or their child, they agreed it was a good idea. The org does contract with an external HR firm for assistance with benefits and major personnel issues, so the ED and the board chair met with them to refine/formalize the policy. Still not great the ED hired their child without input from the board or external HR, although I think other senior staff may have been involved in the hiring. (Generally the board is only involved in hiring senior staff positions, which adult child was not, or if there is a significant salary change from the previous person who held the position, as we need to approve budget changes). All in all, I think we collectively managed the situation really well.

    2. ferrina*

      Great job managing this situation! It sounds like you balanced it really well between eliminating bias as much as possible while still being able to hire qualified candidates that happen to be related to a higher-up (it can happen!).

    3. Drago Cucina*

      I did something similar when I briefly hired my son. The restaurant he worked for was suddenly shuttered by the IRS. Our new cleaning person quit because she announced she was allergic to all cleaning supplies and only wanted to use water.

      We made it clear that he did not answer to me and any issues would be dealt with by the business manager and after that the board. I was no where in the loop. It worked well. But, we also knew for both sides it wasn’t going to be a long-term job. He started in another restaurant kitchen and we found a fabulous new person to clean.

      In another twist, a few years later, my son started dating the assistant director. I immediately called the board chair and let him know. He was a bit befuddled as to why I was telling him. But I wanted transparency. If there was ever a personnel issue the board would need to be actively involved so I could step aside. Fortunately, they acted as responsible adults and while not romantically involved have remained friends.

    4. Momma Bear*

      Kudos. We have a similar policy to prevent spouses, family members, or romantic interests from managing each other or having influence on pay and discipline. It’s good to have that kind of policy uniform and upfront.

      1. not nice, don't care*

        My workplace is getting away with a romantic couple in the food chain because there is technically a director positioned between the couple, which is why HR signed off (officially. Don’t get me started on the influence cliques in higher ed).
        Now we have a gigantic blockade of knowledge, funding, hiring approvals, etc in every pipeline and the supposed managee lurks and interferes in everything while his higher-up partner backs his fuckery from above.
        It’s disgusting and really affecting operations and morale, but we’ve had so much organizational turnover that they can suck all the power structures out of any room.

        1. A Cat named Brian*

          Are you at a large public university in the south? Cuz I have the same thing. We have outside partners and donors complaining and the higher admin is still allowing all kinds of foolishness. It’s exhausting.

  5. Rage*

    At my first job in high school (so many many years ago LOL), I worked at a fast-food joint whose stated goal was to make it “your way”. The store manager, Amanda, wasn’t great, but wasn’t horrible, either. She hired her nephew.

    Nephew clearly thought he was untouchable. He would clock in and leave the store. We had to work short handed, but honestly we liked that better than when he was actually there. (He mostly did this on the shifts when his aunt was not working – so it’s not like it might have been obvious to her what was going on.)

    Anyway, one day, I was in the back, chopping lettuce for our side salads. He came up behind me, grabbed my pony tail, yanked my head back, and placed the produce knife against my throat. “How does it feel?” he hissed in my ear. “I could cut your throat right now.”

    Annoyed, I shoved his hand (and the knife) away and jerked my hair out of his grasp. “Buzz off,” I told him. “I’m busy.” (I have zero clue where my lack of fear response came from; I’d never had a knife held to my throat before.)

    He left. I went straight to the Assistant Manager, Dave. I told him what happened. He sighed. “What do you expect me to do?” he asked. “He’s Amanda’s nephew.”

    I said, “I expect you to tell her what he did. You have 24 hours. If you don’t tell her, then I will…and I will also tell her that I told you and you didn’t act.”

    Nephew was fired the next day, by his aunt. And we all lived happily ever after.

    1. Hills to Die on*

      Well at least Amanda handled her nephew. After all of the horror stories here, I was not hoping for a positive resolution on that.

    2. L. Ron's Cupboard*

      Holy cr*p, that’s terrifying. I may have gasped audibly at the knife part. I’m glad it ended the way it should have (well, except for Nephew being hired at all). Dave is a terrible person.

      1. Rage*

        Dave was actually one of my favorite assistant managers. He just had blinders on with this particular situation. I mean, clearly everyone assumed that Nephew was untouchable. Obviously, a lot of people learned lessons that day.

    3. H.Regalis*

      I have zero clue where my lack of fear response came from.

      Oddly enough, I’ve had that too. I had a guy pull a knife on me at a bar once, and I was just like, “Not cool, dude. You’re ruining the vibe,” and . . . he apologized and backed off. Very bizarre.

      1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        I’m good in a crisis, partly because I can process facts much faster than emotions and partly because I compartmentalize (or dissociate, potato, potahto).

        1. H.Regalis*

          If I had been consciously thinking about what to do, I likely would have reacted more strongly; but at the time that was what my subconscious picked, and I got lucky; although I am very much someone who tends to fawn/deescalate as a knee-jerk response.

          Also, love the username ^_^

        2. Reluctant Mezzo*

          Oh, yes, I know that one. I have a son who is on much better medication now, but earlier in our family life I had to learn to put myself in the Dead Zone to cope with some exciting things.

    4. pally*

      I admire your control over the situation.

      I would have completely lost it on the nephew. I’d have knocked him to the ground and kicked him repeatedly in the groin such that fatherhood would be off the menu for him.

      You want to act crazy? Be prepared to handle crazier. With stunts like that, one never knows how someone could be triggered.

      Don’t ever joke around with weapons or items that can be used as weapons.

      1. Rage*

        I was a wimpy kinda teenager, had very little backbone. So the fact that I stood up for myself in this case was…well, pretty danged good of me.

        I guess I just don’t like people holding lettuce knives to my throat. It’s a me thing.

        1. Reality.Bites*

          I think you have plenty of backbone – or at least you do when it’s really important.

        2. bright as yellow*

          I don’t know what I would do in that situation, but I hope I will do exactly as you did. Neutralise the threat and then stand your ground with the people responsible to get him out of there.

      2. learnedthehardway*

        Don’t, please. It’s easy to say what you would have done. Reality is that – in the moment – you do what your adrenaline makes you do. Instincts take over.

        1. Statler von Waldorf*

          I tried three times to reply to Pally’s comment in a way that was respectful and followed the rules for this comment section. I failed all three times.

          So I’ll just +1000 this comment, add my own “Don’t. Please.” and move on.

          1. Rage*

            I actually didn’t read it that way; or, at least, I didn’t feel like I was being made to feel “less than” for my response. I didn’t exactly fight/flight/freeze – I sort of just brushed it off like it didn’t matter (which, let’s be honest, probably ticked him off because he was clearly looking for SOME kind of response, and didn’t get it). Maybe I just assumed he didn’t actually have the guts to do anything in front of, like, 3 or 4 other employees.

            It is common to think about what you “would have done” – but you really don’t know until you’re in it. Any response is a valid response – though perhaps stabbing him back at work might not have been a very GOOD response. No cameras, and I couldn’t prove he had done anything to me, ya know?

            This was kind of interesting to reflect on; I had not thought about that particular incident in a very long time.

            1. Phryne*

              I think it is partly related to how you saw that guy. You already knew he was a bratty little a**hole, so in the moment you reacted the way you would to a misbehaving child, because that is what he felt like to you. If it had been a total stranger and you have no idea what they want or are capable of or what their mental state is, your subconscious would have put different alarms on and you might have reacted totally different.

              If you ask me if I am brave I would say no, i’m a chicken poop. And yet, though I have never been in anything of this wtf magnitude, but I have had several experiences where my first reaction to a situation was annoyance at the sad little losers causing it rather than fear, and I reacted in that vein, and only afterwards did I realise it was actually a potentially threatening and really uncool situation.

      3. Nesprin*

        This comes off as more than a little victim-blamey: people can freeze or fawn or flee in these situations, and it’s not their fault.

      4. not nice, don't care*

        Same. Assault victim here, and my instinct is to remove threats fast and permanently.

    5. not nice, don't care*

      Dude would have peen picking knife blade out of his chest while waiting for the cops/ambulance to arrive.
      Dave and Aunt could chat with the lawyers after.

      1. Perihelion*

        It’s amazing to me when people reply to explain how much more badass they are than OP. If I was there I would have used my kung-fu!

        1. Reluctant Mezzo*

          I probably would have just frozen at that moment myself, and then quit. (Had a not fun incident with a dog when checking addresses for the census).

      2. Lenora Rose*

        Unless you’ve been in the position, you don’t know what you really would do. And “fight” is not actually a superior instinct to freeze or flight or fawn.

  6. Hills to Die on*

    3/5 of Boss’ kids work here. Anyone else would have gotten fired. One’s mistakes and ineptitude are staggering and there have been multiple emergency board meetings to figure out how to fix her mistakes. Anytime she wants a raise, she trots into the VP of HR’s office and demands one. She just got promoted. Again.
    Must be nice to have that kind of job security…. of course it’s also nice to know I stand on my own 2 feet and make my own way in the world.

    1. Hills to Die on*

      Note that these kids already have hundreds of millions of dollars on their own. I wish they would just retire and stop creating headaches for us.

    2. Margaret Cavendish*

      >>Anytime she wants a raise, she trots into the VP of HR’s office and demands one.

      Wait, is that how you get a raise? I’ve just been, you know, working and stuff. Have I been doing it wrong this entire time?

    3. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      My horrible cousin worked for the family business, which his dad was CEO of. But he got fired within weeks after my uncle died. This was a couple generations down from the founder, so there were multiple owners.

  7. Abogado Avocado*

    Ding, ding, ding, I think we have a new category: Awful Things My Boss’s Kid-Coworker Has Done at Work. I look forward to Alison giving us the top 10 (or, dare I dream, 20)!

  8. soontoberetired*

    My company hires family members but they can’t have the same boss, or be reporting to the family member. It isn’t great even with those things in place, but better than most. The positive side is they will fire said family members without blinking if it is warranted. The bigger issue is they get promotions they haven’t earned from people who want to curry favor with the bigger bosses. That has backfired on a few managers.

    1. 1-800-BrownCow*

      My company does that as well. We actually have an entire family that works here; mom, dad, and their 2 daughters. For the most part, things have worked out fine. A majority of the family members that are hired after the initial family member tend to be decent employees, so thankfully it’s worked out. But yes, the company will fire family members if warranted, and it’s happened. Actually one of our current employees was hired because her mom worked here, and a couple years after she started, her mom got fired. Yet, 7 years later, daughter is still her and has been promoted (well-deserved) and is a great employee.

  9. 1-800-BrownCow*

    I’ve had a lot of good and only a few bad experiences with it. First company I worked for, a year after I started, one of the owner’s adult was brought in as as a recent college graduate. They created a management position for him, with zero management experience, just a business degree. He certainly struggled a lot in the beginning, but did seem to try. I left shortly after, so I don’t know how well it worked out, but at least it seem like he was trying.

    The last company I worked at, the VP’s son was brought on as summer help during his later college years. Apparently he’d never had a job before and I suspect dad brought him in to keep an eye on him or possibly due to some trouble he’d been in. Regardless, his son was worthless as an employee. He was assigned to work on the manufacturing floor, which to his son, the work was “beneath him”. He’d come in late all the time (he say he forgot he had a doctor appointment that day), he’d go on lunchbreak and then be gone an hour or 2 rather than the 30 minutes he was supposed to get (he’d say someone in upper management needed to speak to him about something), he’d not do his work correctly, he’d whine about how unfair it was that he had to work for the summer, and so on. He would also complain about things to other machine operators that just showed how privileged he was, like how unfair it was that he dad wouldn’t buy him a new computer because his current computer was 2 years old and he “needed” a better one. Or how the brand new vehicle his parents bought his was the upgraded model that he wanted. We were all thankful when that summer was over and he wasn’t brought back to work there again.

    On the flip side, one of the former owners at my current job brought his daughter in to work during summer and holiday breaks from college and she was an excellent worker. Whatever areas were short-staffed and needed extra help, and was quick-to-train work, she’d do it. Even boring work like going through boxes of old files and scanning them to store as digital copies. She’d even pick up overtime on the weekends when they had a hard time getting enough people to sign up for OT work. The supervisors in the areas she helped out in said they sure wish they had more people on their team that worked like her.

    1. BellyButton*

      I just don’t understand how the parents don’t realize their kid being an entitled sh*t is a direct reflection of them. I would be embarrassed to let any of my family members behave that way around my employees or clients. It makes people respect the parent less.

      1. Margaret Cavendish*

        It’s generational. Because the parents were likely entitled sh*ts, and their parents before them – that’s the only way they know how to behave.

  10. BellyButton*

    I hope that parents are getting the message- you really aren’t doing your kids any favors. Even if they are qualified for the job, people will always assume they got it because of who their parent is. Even if they are good at their job their own manager may not feel confident in providing them feedback/coaching. They will always be met with some sort of bias and will not develop and grow the way they need to for their career.

    1. ferrina*

      It depends. I don’t think we should universally ban kids from working for their parents but parents should not default to that and should be very cautious about that decision, for all the reasons that you state.

      I got hired at the same small non-profit that my mom worked at (less than 50 people). I was in high school and the role was a short-term project that didn’t require any sort of specialized knowledge or experience (the kind of thing you could have a temp or intern do). My mom was one of top leadership, but not at the very top. She was actively against me being hired, because she wanted to avoid any kind of potential drama. Even though the role was under a different department and a different leader. The department head defied my mom when he hired me. His argument was that this project was dull but very important, and he wanted someone who had a low salary and high work quality (he had seen me volunteer for them the past several years, so he was familiar with my work)

      I didn’t know about any of this until later- I had stopped by the office for a quick volunteering stint, and the department head saw me and asked if I wanted a job for the summer. Of course I said yes (cuz it was better than working fast food), and by the time my mom learned about it, it was too late). It went really well- my mom and I never interacted, I did my project well and ahead of schedule. They gave me a second project and had me stay on longer than they planned. I worked part-time until I graduated and moved away. The department head who hired me was thrilled with how it worked out, though my mom was never happy about it.

      The key was that they carefully set it up to limit any drama- there was a set end date (though they ended up extending it after things went extremely well), no potential of a raise or promotion, my mom had no supervision over me and our roles had no overlap, my supervisor was already untouchable in the organization (she was amazing) and she had her supervisor’s full support, and I was already a known entity. It worked out really really well, but there was always the chance it could have gone poorly.

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        As a teenager, I did some contract work for my mom. The work was also boring and a lot of it required just doing what I was told. It also included fetching lunch for people. I never would have dreamed of embarrassing my mom by being an entitled brat!

        1. UKDancer*

          Yeah as teenager I worked at the shop my mother managed as a Saturday assistant. She always hired one for the summer season to cover weekends. Her regular quit on her and she needed someone for the summer so 16 year old me was drafted. I only accepted on the condition she didn’t work the same days (which she didn’t). She also told her staff that I should be treated like anyone else, get no special treatment and if I was crap she’d sack me.

          I actually quite enjoyed the work. It was fairly routine (stacking shelves, going out to get their lunches, mopping the floor and tidying the stock room). Occasionally I was let loose on the customers. It was fairly hard to mess up. I learnt a lot from it and her staff were a load of sweet middle aged ladies who taught me a lot about customer service and how to arrange window displays. They also treated me like an adult which I kind of liked.

          At the end of the summer they asked for me back the following summer so I did 3 summers worth of Saturday cover until I went to university. It probably helped that I was temporary, there was no likelihood of me wanting anyone’s job and I was also a fairly biddable teenager.

    2. Mom2ASD*

      Sometimes, it’s the only way, though. My kids have worked at the store my spouse managed. My spouse is harder on them than on the other employees in terms of performance expectations, and is really clear that they won’t get treated any differently from other workers.

      My son with ASD had a horrible time finding a job last year, and the only way he got employment was that he was doing work for the company’s new website – populating the online catalogue. He wouldn’t have been employed, otherwise. He objectively did a good job (per the company president), and now has something on his resume that hopefully will help him to get other employment this year – although it’s not looking good for this summer, despite his efforts.

  11. H.Regalis*

    I had an acquaintance who, after training the boss’s kid, got fired from his job and replaced by the boss’s kid. It was complete bullshit.

    1. 1-800-BrownCow*

      Ooooo, that’s wrong on so many levels. Sucks in the moment, but hopefully your acquaintance realized they were probably better off and found a better boss to work for.

      1. NotRealAnonForThis*

        Since I’d not use “he” or “his” in relation to myself (so there’s little chance that H. Regalis’s anecdote is about me) , I’m going with “definitely not, because that absolutely happened to me”.

        Funny part is now that he’s gotten the experience, he’s flown the coop and now they’re looking to replace him. Interestingly enough, now that I know how a not-small-and-definitely-not-dysfunctional-business should be run? No way am I going back.

  12. AndersonDarling*

    The family business I worked for made up imaginary jobs and gave them to relatives. They got paid for doing nothing, but honestly, it was better than dealing with the relatives every day.
    The only time we saw them was at the holiday luncheon where they would be given awards for their great performance! Once, one of them was given cruise tickets for their 20 years of employment and she stood up and said, “But I don’t work here?” She really didn’t know why those paychecks were coming every month!

    1. BellyButton*

      what?!?! LOL she didn’t even know she “worked” there?? LOL I guess she didn’t do her own taxes… LOL that is bananapants.

      1. amoeba*

        I mean, to be honest, at that point my mind would probably have gone to some kind of scam that *didn’t* involve her *actually* getting the paycheck… but then why invite her to the dinner and even give her the gift? Lol, this all makes zero sense…

    2. anon for this*

      I’ve heard of similar situations where these imaginary jobs were just a way to provide income and health insurance to all of the various relatives.

      Which, as clearly said above, is kinda bullshit, but is also a lot better than having to actually deal with them on a day to day basis.

      1. I Have RBF*

        There were years where that would have been my dream. Others, not so much.

        Nowadays if someone said “Here, you can have a full salary, plus benefits, just for letting us brag that we employ you.” I would say “Sign me up!”, then make sure that I knew enough about the company to talk intelligently about it to others.

        Unfortunately, I don’t have that kind of cachet to lend to an organization.

      2. pope suburban*

        That sounds kind of amazing for her. I’d take that just so I could work a job I liked but which would not cover the bills, then donate like mad to causes I believe in. It’d feel terrible to be an actual employee there, though, and I feel for everyone who had to work for the check that just magically appeared in that lady’s bank account every pay period.

  13. Going anon with this*

    My department hired the son of someone who used to run the team the son was hired to, and the parent is still heavily involved in day to day work. The son does a good job, as far as I can tell, but I feel bad for him as it must be hard to make his own reputation.

  14. Jan*

    I just watched a Hawkeye analysis video on Kate Bishop’s financial privilege and was reminded of her working at her mother’s company and how sorry I felt for both her and her colleagues!

  15. Family Business*

    I wasn’t really a nepotism hire because it was a family business, but it definitely sucked for me. On the one hand I had more flexibility than other employees had in certain areas, but on the other I was held to much higher standards of work and expected to be flexible when it came to things like late pay and illegal hours. I was also definitely misclassified as a contractor. I got out when I could, but it was hard because I was constantly exhausted. Thankfully it was always seen on both sides as a temporary gig. Still, it did minor long-term damage to my relationship with my mom and I respect her less because I got to see how terrible of a manager she was.

    On the plus side, I very firmly do not have lofty dreams about starting my own business. I don’t wonder about what it would be like to be my own boss and set my own working hours. I got to see exactly how hard it is to actually run a business, and I know that “set your own hours” can easily mean “work all the time.” I’m happy with my desk job where I get to leave and not think too much about work when I’m home, and where I get the same pay every paycheck plus health insurance and retirement savings regardless of if I have a bad week or I go on vacation

    1. Paint N Drip*

      I worked in an office where my mom was an established manager – no drama, I was taught to be a good little worker bee and she didn’t coddle me. But I also got to see where she wasn’t an amazing manager, which was a surprising development for me in understanding her as a person outside of my life-giver. She’s the “rock” of our family where my dad and I are quite emotional, but she was certainly making manager decisions leading with emotion over logic. Later after dealing with a challenging employee she did some management training/development and I got to see how that led to some real improvements.

  16. Typing All The Time*

    I once worked on a student publication where I decided to apply for a leadership role. Another student who also was involved off and on also applied. Two of her relatives worked for our school; one was on the committee to appoint the new editor. I was made to feel like I was impacting her opportunity, and didn’t belong there, even though I continuously worked on the publication. We both ended up as co-managers. We had rocky times but we’ve gone on our own career paths.

  17. Almost Academic*

    I was a nepo kid, hired at a small family construction business during spring/summer seasons – Overall I think it worked out okay, but only because: 1. This wasn’t a business I was planning on going into, or using as a stepping stone or anything (so no need to make a specific reputation, and I wasn’t deluded enough to think my experiences there would transfer to the real world given lack of feedback, no chance of advancement); 2. I was doing work that was primarily developmentally appropriate for me as a teen (think filing orders alphabetically, sorting through old storage areas, digitizing collections, taking basic in-shop orders) and that no one else wanted to do, so the risks of me screwing up were low, and I was paid minimum wage; 3. My dad frankly wasn’t willing (or financially solvent) to pay enough or accommodate schedules to hire the actual part-time help he needed, so having someone to lighten others loads at least partially was more appreciated since they knew that nothing else would ever change, and finally 4. My dad was (is) a total jerk and a nightmare boss to work for – think yelling, calling people idiots, the whole nine yards. I don’t know how anyone lasts at that company, and I’ve spoken to him multiple times about it (he won’t change, we have a strained relationship at this point around certain work topics). I think having at least someone (me) who was willing to step in and say “cool it off, that’s blatantly inappropriate”, “hey, you can’t actually do that it’s illegal”, or step in at the right time to say “I’m hungry, let’s go get lunch” etc. in a way that only family could, and no one else could to him out of fear of losing their job, made folks at least somewhat okay with me being around each summer. Definitely don’t recommend it for anyone else though, it’s a terrible structure to have and shouldn’t be how people get work experience – while I feel really lucky to have had a flexible and steady source of income each summer to help me save up for college, I’ve never listed it on a resume.

  18. old curmudgeon*

    Decades ago, I worked for a privately held company where the VP/GM had hired his entire family – wife, daughter, the wife’s daughters from a prior marriage, sons-in-law, the occasional random niece or nephew, friends from college, all of them worked there.

    The VP/GM’s stepdaughters were, um, special.

    One of them would follow me into the supposedly private office I was allowed to use to pump breast milk and would sit there smoking a cigarette and watching me while gossiping about her mother and stepfather. Trust me, I really, really did NOT need or want to know what pornographic movies the two of them liked to watch, but I’d get the, ah, blow-by-blow account of what they enjoyed, all the while trying to relax enough to achieve letdown of my milk.

    The other one was given a job as the head cashier at one of the company’s locations. Mysteriously, that location started having regular cash shortages, serious ones that would frequently be over $100 (and this was in the 1990s when $100 went a bit farther than it does now). The company controller showed up at the location in question for a surprise audit, and nobody was more shocked than the VP/GM when the controller announced that his darling stepdaughter had been caught redhanded with her fingers in the till. The VP/GM acted promptly, of course. He fired the controller that same day.

    Bosses, please don’t hire your kids. They may be the most perfect employees ever, but since you had the joy of raising them, let someone else have the joy of hiring and managing them.

    1. Dovasary Balitang*

      The VP/GM acted promptly, of course. He fired the controller that same day.

      The twist I did not expect.

  19. Goddess47*

    I got lucky. I worked for a consulting tech firm on a client site and the client’s CEO built a ‘summer internship’ into the contract that was only ever given to his kids. I missed the older brother who evidently wasn’t a nightmare but he was a handful.

    I supervised the delightful younger daughter who really was a delight. She was cheerful, did scut work (i.e. boring data entry, research) and told us endless tales about her father that we never would have heard anything else. Nothing totally outrageous but she did narrate the time the mom sent a ‘stripper-gram’ to a C-level staff meeting (!) as a birthday surprise for the very straight-laced-CEO. We never heard a word about it on the usual grapevines but the daughter, who knew about it, happened to be there (uh-huh) and gave us a blow-by-blow description.

    Daughter went on to good things, and is working to this day in an inner-city school role.

    So there are good nepo-kids out there!

    1. soVeryAnon*

      I had a co-worker who was the daughter of the owners. We didn’t work closely together, but as far as I could tell, she was a good worker who got along with people. On the other hand, part of the company lore was about how when she was younger, she got fired by her parents for repeatedly doing something careless that she’s been told not to do. Her parents are nice people too.

  20. BellyButton*

    Sure, there are things like that work out. I worked for the same company my dad was a VP in, doing data entry for the accounts payable/receivable. I got the job because he overheard the manager saying she can’t keep anyone around to do part time data entry, and back then I could 10key like a mo-fo. He gave her my number and I interviewed and took a 10key skills test, and she hired me. She only needed about 10-15 hours a week– it was a nice little extra income for me that I could do on the weekends. It was perfect for both of us. I rarely saw anyone and the few people who I did run into had no idea I was his daughter.

    Funny side– He had no idea I still did work for them 5 yrs later. I was in grad school out of state and the manager would send me a box.( I was remote with a dial up connection.) He found out when he was dropping off a package in the mail room and saw my name on a box. He said they had a good laugh about that. I honestly think because it was weekends and he wasn’t there he totally forgot I ever worked there.

      1. ferrina*

        Haha, I got you!
        Yeah, that’s exactly the best case scenario! It’s a win for the business because they get someone that’s a known entity without having to go through either a full search for a candidate or pay temp rates. And it’s a win for the person with the job. Obviously there’s the systemic issue of race/ethnicity/SEC with hiring family members, but for a minor role like this that is an exception rather than the rule, its unlikely to make a big impact.

        Weirdly, I ended up being on the other side of the systemic issue later- I’m from a low SEC and had a horrible time breaking into the job market. I had held down steady jobs since before high school (literally had a reference who had first met me when I was 12 or 13 and I had worked for them for 5 years), my resume was a legit 1.5 pages of experience by the time I was 20 (no fluff, all real jobs), I was ridiculously smart and fast learner, had good references and had several college degrees. Yet could not get a job anywhere close to my field. Took a retail-esque job to keep me afloat, and spent years applying on and off. All my friends who got jobs in or close to their field had gotten them through a parent or a friend’s introduction; my mom refused to help me in any way. I broke into my field on my own merits after 4 years. About 1 year later convinced my boss to hire a friend for a short term project. He had had a tough time breaking into the professional world too, and this guy was insanely smart and qualified. He was also the right person for the job, and he did a fabulous job with the work (finishing it well before the deadline). 10 years later, both he and I are excelling in our fields. Meanwhile the friends that had gotten jobs due to their parents stalled out. I feel like there should be a moral lesson in this, but I have no idea what that lesson is.

        1. BellyButton*

          That is really interesting. I wonder what their take on it would be.

          I was having a discussion with my boss a few months ago. He really wants his son to move back after university, he said “I want him to make connections here. ” I told him he has connections- your connections. Let him go build his network and knowledge away from home, it will be better for him and his career if he gets to stand on his own name and not yours.

  21. Your Social Work Friend*

    On the funny side of nepotism, my sister got a position on the board of a national organization (think more social club than actual business or non-profit) because our dad recommended her while he was still on the board. Since then the other board members have continuously offered to introduce her to their website guy, who knows a lot about X and Y and would be great for her to talk to! She thanks them and lets them know that she’s known the website guy for 30-odd years, and will be seeing him at Christmas.

  22. anon for this*

    I work for a small, rural school district where one of the teachers is the superintendent’s daughter. She’s a good teacher but there is certainly an appearance of favouritism. She was a high school teacher who transferred to the local elementary school when her oldest child started kindergarten to be in the same school as them. The only problem was, there wasn’t any open positions. A teacher who had been there for several years was transferred to the high school against her will to make room for the superintendent’s daughter, who has since been talking about how much she dislikes teaching younger children and can’t wait to go back to teaching high school when her kids are older.

    I think it’s likely that the superintendent did not direct the school to make a position for their daughter (I’ve left out some details for the sake of anonymity). But it’s very likely that the elementary principal felt that they couldn’t not have a position for her.

  23. LapsedNepoBaby*

    I was a nepotism hire fresh out of college. My aunt needed an executive assistant, she gave me a trial period and asked me to write some grants for her nonprofit which tbh didn’t have the budget to hire a more experienced grants person.

    I have always remembered her two employees expressing to me after my first month that they were apprehensive when I was brought on but they quickly realized “oh, she can really do this.” It stung a bit but I understood how they felt even then, and more so now.

    Looking back, I know that there were times when they must have rolled their eyes. 22 year old kids have to learn workplace norms on the job and to top it off, I had serious chronic health issues impacting me during my entire tenure and had to scale back my hours for a while due to these issues. I also left after about 5 years to switch career paths, and had been going to school at night during that time. So it was clear I wasn’t there forever and that some of this was indeed special treatment. I’m sure that was annoying for the others who spent 15-20 years there, and I feel a little shame about that even though they were outwardly sympathetic.

    Overall though, I think it was a net positive? I started my career there and helped them when they were in a jam for a lot longer than I’ve remained in any position since. 5 years is nothing to sneeze at. I secured a lot of grants while keeping the boss’s workload tolerable (and she can be a pistol). And when I finally figured out my current career path was the right one for me, having that experience legitimized me to prospective employers as someone who could meet deadlines get stuff done. So yeah, just sharing that experience here, because sometimes a recent college grad can actually be the answer to bigger problems.

  24. Ruby Soho*

    It was kind of the flip side for me. My mom managed a large medical practice when I was growing up. It was very common to have employees’ and doctors’ kids working there during breaks from school. Before I started there after my first year of college, my mom told me I had to work harder than the other kids, because my mom was the boss and she did not want there to be any questions about my work ethic (and rules didn’t really ever apply to the doctors’ kids). It was a low stakes job, filing medical records (back when everything was paper), I took every hour of OT I could, worked circles around everyone in the dept, and people still found really amazingly creative ways to treat me like crap. I never said it but thought it many times – did you forget my mom is your boss???

  25. ZeeEnnui*

    I worked for a mobile app in the marketing department pre-pandemic. The CEO’s daughter had access to everyone in the company’s email and would send them her feedback on everything from the marketing to development. Keep in mind, she was barely out of college, lived across the country and had a job. When she reached out to me, I was shocked at the condescending tone of the email. You’d think she owned the app, and we were all tanking it. Then I was given her to “manage” because she was going to take over the brand social channels. My boss apologized but there wasn’t anything she could do. Disaster. From treating me like an idiot to fighting my feedback, it was a challenge to say the least. Then she went forward with a post I rejected, and it was criticized very loudly in the company Slack channel to which she had access. All things I warned her about. Of course, I had to deal with the mortification of my co-workers thinking that I had anything to do with this post. But it did shut her down for a bit. Then I spearheaded a national influencer campaign, and bosses daughter had a fit. Both my boss and I received a shockingly offensive email from her where she unloaded about us on our choice of influencers to making fatphobic comments. It was grossly unprofessional. My boss was furious (as was I). Essentially, she wanted this app to only reflect her and her friends and dismissed anyone that didn’t fit her wealthy, NYC lifestyle. My boss went to her boss about it. Then the CFO had dinner with CEO and daughter, and she went off on the influencer campaign again. He was very put off, and apparently had some strong but polite words for her about professionalism and a reminder that she was not an actual employee, just a glorified volunteer. Both he and my boss were busy working to get her removed from working under me, and volunteering at all. Then the pandemic happened, and I was laid off with half the staff. I still think back to this situation, and wonder how I managed to keep my cool (barely).

  26. Watry*

    It’s not terribly unusual for children to follow their parents into the main part of my field, or for spouses to meet each other . We have the standard rule about not reporting to a relative, but we also have a rule that relatives can’t share a reporting chain at all, up to the C-suite level. It can really put a damper on internal mobility when both people are Llama Groomers.

  27. DaniCalifornia*

    Had a supervisor tell me to my face “I wish I hadn’t hired her, but I’m not going to fire her.” after I had a heart to heart with her about how extremely poorly her daughter was doing at our firm. So many mistakes after months and months of training. No effort to help during busy tax season. Watching Netflix on 1 screen but not multi-tasking, just watching tv.

    The same supervisor then ended up befriending the new admin she hired to the point of BBQs and motorcycle rides, vacations together. Fine, whatever. Until that admin was also doing poorly and I ended up with more work/fixing her mistakes/the admin getting moved next to me instead of front facing. My supervisor could not handle confrontation or managing others. I left the job solely because of her.

  28. Bookworm*

    Not quite in this lane but I worked at a retail job at a college’s student supply store with a guy who couldn’t do it. Could not manage a register, could not physically lift some of our stock, etc. I was not his supervisor (luckily) but he could cause a headache: he could not do many of our simplest tasks, English was not his native language, etc.

    But a big higher up in the school had gone to the managers, asked us to take pity. Grandmother was a professor at the college, begged us to keep/rehire (it was a seasonable job with the school year), he had experienced the death of a parent some years ago and he had no direction, couldn’t hold down a job, etc.

    We had some colleagues who did speak his language so they did try to coach him as much as possible but it wasn’t their job (they weren’t supervisors) and he was not “coachable” in that sense. He left once on bad terms (I forgot the exact reason why but for any “regular” employee it was definitely a fireable thing/he left in a huff so it was a kind of mutual firing/quitting if you can call it that?). We got pressured to rehire by the people I mentioned above but it was clear it really wasn’t going to work out and he wasn’t going to improve. Supervisor realized that guy had said he was quitting the first time, hated it there, etc, so he encouraged that/pointed out to HR that the employee had walked out once and we finally got rid of him.

    This was a couple of decades ago (whew) now and this post made me wonder what happened to him. He wasn’t a bad guy (quite nice, actually) but this was just not something that would work.

  29. Brain the Brian*

    Every time we talk about family members as employees, I can’t help but think of that crazy story of the CEO who went bonkers after discovering one of his employees was a biological half-sibling through an unwitting donor. I would caveat today’s advice with “Don’t be an awful person to distant or previously unknown relatives. Tell them you know but that you don’t expect to treat each other any differently in the workplace — and then do that — and support them with a good recommendation if they choose to leave to avoid awkwardness.”

    1. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

      That was bananas! Even worse, the two goblins in HR who led the charge to get rid of the poor LW were still employed there as of the last update.

  30. MassMatt*

    I am fortunate that my only experience with working with someone who was family with the boss was very different. He was the son of a small business owner and was anything but a slacker. He was generally the first one to arrive and the last one to leave, and he worked his butt off. And his dad did NOT go easy on him, if anything he was held to a much higher standard than regular employees. And I never heard him complain! The plan was for him to inherit the business so the dad wanted to make sure he was capable of it.

    1. ScruffyInternHerder*

      That’s definitely a best case, and I’ve been lucky enough to see it in action too (not me, but a manager at one point).

      My way of dealing with the specter of being “so and so’s daughter” in an industry where that would be a disqualifier (while being “so and so’s boy” would automatically qualify you for a higher role) was to have the luck to opt to change my last name. My dad has worked in an adjacent industry for decades, and I have conferred with him many a time, and vice versa. Most people to this day do not know that he is my Dad unless they’re talking to us in person on a site somewhere randomly.

      Of course, now I have a coworker who leans into his family’s history within this industry to hide his mediocrity. Its loads of fun.

  31. Not Australian*

    A long-time ago I was in a healthcare-adjacent role. I was also awaiting scheduled surgery, which would keep me off work for about 4-6 weeks IIRC. Having been given plenty of warning, my ditzy boss – about whom books could be written, believe me – left it too late to get anyone worth having and decided instead to appoint a seat-filler … namely, her sixteen-year-old son who was on his school summer holidays. What’s more, she let him use my office – which was detached from the rest of the department and had no windows – and gave him computer access the equivalent of mine. When I got back after my surgery I discovered that ‘Ryan’ had spent most of his time in the job playing games on the computer, and on at least one occasion had invited a friend to spend the day with him when they’d amused themselves by drinking (yes, alcohol), smoking (I don’t know what, but massively against regulations), and *looking up everybody they knew on a supposedly highly confidential medical database*… It didn’t take me long to conclude that if he was considered good enough to do my job temporarily he might as well have it permanently, and his mum could have all the fun and games of explaining her decision-making process to the Board. It broke my heart to leave, but there was no way I could ever feel valued again in my job after that.

    1. Have you had enough water today?*

      That breach of confidentiality took my breath away. Was the facility forced to alert the patients whose records were unlawfully accessed or did they manage to sweep it under the rug? I would be livid if I came back to that.

    2. Reluctant Mezzo*

      I would have been tempted to let a state regulatory commission know about the breach of confidentiality.

  32. Hydrangea*

    I am interviewing for a Creative Director role where I just learned the entire marketing team consists of the founders’ children. All just out of college so not very experienced and none of them studied the field. And it sounded like they could pick whatever position they wanted.

    I cannot even imagine giving honest feedback in this environment. Or what would happen to me when one decided they wanted my job.

  33. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

    My last job hired the production manager’s daughter to work in the office, where I worked. She was great and a vast improvement over the last guy. Hardworking, pleasant, competent, quick to pick up new tasks. She definitely made my life better, both because I enjoyed working and chatting with her on a personal level, and also because she got so much work done and made so few mistakes.

  34. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    If the company exists to provide jobs for the family, then just be clear when interviewing new hires if family are not to be questioned by peons and will get all the promotions.

    If the company’s not owned by your family, but you’re C-suite, then even if your relative has suitable qualifications and experience for the job, don’t hire them: They’ll get a fairer shake and develop their career better elsewhere and your own reputation within the firm won’t be damaged by assumptions of nepotism.

  35. Jake*

    I have 2 seperate experiences with this.

    #1: The best man at my wedding was a nepotism hire at his company. Hired 100% because his dad was C Suite. Hired in at entry level, and quickly has risen the ranks to manager (dad has long since retired, but is still a consultant with the company). He never would’ve had that opportunity without his father, but he also hasn’t gotten a whole lot of special treatment either. He is at a pay grade concurrent with a very good employee with his level of experience, and he works more hours than anybody I’ve seen at the company. Goes to show that not all nepotism hires are bad hires.

    #2. My current boss is the founder of the company’s youngest son. Similar to my friend in #1, he would never have been hired without his connections, but he is really good at what he does. Ownership transferred 8ish years ago, and he is a partner, but he is certainly not the majority share holder. If he wasn’t good, the current majority shareholder certainly wouldn’t keep him around. All that said, his last name terrifies 60% of our employees, so he gets special treatment in the sense that everybody is scared to say no to him.

  36. PDB*

    Hi, ex boss’ kid here. I didn’t go into the business but I worked in it every school vacation from age 12. I was 4th generation and our tradition was that the boss’ kid worked harder than everybody else. And since actual physical work was involved-we were contractors-this was easy to see. I was worked hard and from the stories I heard so was my father. I also had a Saturday job.
    In the end it turned out I was ill suited for the business and had a very successful career in something very different.

    1. UKDancer*

      I think sometimes these jobs are very useful to teach you what you don’t want to do. After working in my mother’s shop I was very clear I didn’t want to work in retail as I didn’t like customers, although arranging the shelves was quite fun.

  37. Have you had enough water today?*

    Or your 17 year old daughter who has been kicked out of school for fighting & cannot hold down a job “because no one will give her a fair go”…she is an absolute nightmare!!!

    Every manager in the place has now refused to have her on their team because all she does is sit in the lunch room on her phone & if she is asked to do anything she goes back to her CEO Dad & makes up some story about how mean everyone is to her. She hasn’t completed a full day yet but has been full time on payroll since November last year.

    I cannot imagine what her life will look like if Daddy decides to make her work for her income. She won’t cope in the real world, which is 100%% his fault for coddling her for so long & never teaching her the word NO.

    1. Scarlet ribbons in her hair*

      You just reminded me of the time that one of the owner’s sons was working at the company for the summer, and the receptionist and I saw him run out the door. A minute or two later, the office manager asked us if we had seen him. We said that he had just left. She said that she had told him to deliver a package somewhere and then she went to get it. And then she got the package, only to find out from us that he had run out the door. The receptionist wound up delivering the package. Of course, since he was the owner’s son, he got away with it.

  38. Jackie*

    This was over 25 years ago. My close friend K got a job as a manager of a motorcycle shop. High end clothing, accessories, parts, plus motorcycles/service area in a nice affluent location. What she didn’t know at the time was that the wealthy owner had “purchased” the business solely for his stepson, to provide him with on the surface gainful employment, and at the same time make his new second wife happy.

    It was truly like giving a kid a candy store to “play work” in. This guy did absolutely nothing all day in his office. Loved to come out on the floor and bullshit with customers–that was the job for him. My friend ran the place, and all her efforts keeping the business going kept all the other employees paid. He took credit for all her work while hanging out at the local bar next to the place – treating his friends to stepdaddy’s cash from the till.

    She finally bailed when she found out he was coming in during closed periods and taking merchandise to exchange for drugs, or gift to his many girlfriends. The financial books were all out of sync. Naturally the owner and his wife were surprisingly resistant to realizing their “kiddo” was a shiftless, lazy, cheating thief.

  39. Scarlet ribbons in her hair*

    At one company, the owner’s son constantly told me what to do. But the things he told me to do went against what I had been instructed to do, and when I refused to obey him, he would say, “Well, I’ll have to discuss this with my FATHER!” or “I wonder what my father would say if he knew you said that” or “My father wouldn’t like that, and I”VE known longer than YOU have!” He kept this up for a long time, then he abruptly stopped. I had a feeling that he eventually complained about me to his father, and his father told him that I was correct in not listening to him, and that he should leave me alone.

    At another company, the owner’s sons would regularly walk around and tell everyone, “You had better be nice to me, because one of these days, YOU’LL be working for ME!” After a while, it became VERY annoying. The sons got much more vacation time than the rest of us, and they made it a point to tell us that what we got was NOTHING. In addition, they did not have to tell their supervisors that they wanted vacation time. They just told the rest of us, and when the supervisors wondered where they were, we would say, “Oh, didn’t you know? Today is the first day of their four-week vacation.”

  40. AnonforThis*

    I operate a consultancy business in a niche field, and while I don’t have employees, I do use subcontractors regularly, and every single one of the subbies I use are personal friends, ex-colleagues, acquaintances, or my own two college-student daughters. It has never caused me a problem, I think for three reasons: a) I am upfront with everyone that I am the business owner and that it is my choice to use staff only from personal networks – there is no bait and switch b) I hold all my subbies to the same standards of work and timeliness – my daughters are treated no differently to my acquaintances, and c) everyone works remotely and individually, so wouldn’t in most cases have even any awareness of what others are doing (and certainly wouldn’t perceive any unfair difference). I also pay over the odds for the type of work, so generally my subbies are very pleased to get briefs of work from me.

    I’m aware I’ve been fortunate to have had no wrinkles, but it’s how I’ve chosen to do it for the past 9 years and for me it has been a successful strategy. One of my daughters is becoming very skilled at the kind of work we do, and has expressed interest in taking over the business in the future, but she and I have agreed that it’s very important that she gets professional experience in larger workplaces first, so her intention is to work for other companies for at least 8 years after graduation before considering whether she wants to transition into running the consultancy.

  41. Tell the bees*

    I know someone who got a summer job working for his father’s best friend. He said that he never worked so hard in his life because he knew that he would never hear the end of it if he didn’t do a good job.

    I also know someone who got hired as an entry level admin at the company where his father had just retired as a manager. He had to work very hard to prove that he wasn’t just hired because of his dad. (And he actually did do a good job.)

  42. ck in pa*

    I worked for a family company for five years. Lots of relatives employed. You never knew if you had a job when you went to work. If another relative needed a job you may be told your services were no longer needed and the relative had your job. The company was bought out by a major corporation when it was close to filing for bankruptcy and everyone was let go. The brought their own people in to run it.

  43. Lucy P*

    My boss and company owner brought in their offspring, Shawn, to help me out with office duties. Shawn if very intelligent, but also highly disorganized and has ADHD. In fact, my boss has told me not to expect them to be neat about anything.

    When Shawn was brought on board, I was told to assign them certain tasks and make them responsible for getting those tasks done on a regular basis without my intervention. Having worked with Shawn in the past, I secretly decided not to give them tasks that they would actually be responsible for, until the day my boss reprimanded me. Instead, I handed out things as I needed them done.

    The thing is that Shawn can go a few months at a time and have no issues. Then they start to slide. I’ll find them playing on their phone or taking walks around the office instead of doing assigned work. Other times they will stare blindly at their computer screen, unmoving for up to half an hour at a time.

    Of late, Shawn is letting thing slip again. If I don’t remind them, bills don’t get paid. They completely missed a deadline on a project assigned to them last week. If I give an assignment and they don’t know comprehend what has to be done, they’ll just sit on it instead of asking questions. It’s up to me to ask if they need help.

    Honestly, managing this person feels like a full-time job. I have so much work on my plate that I really don’t have time to constantly chase after them.

    I often want to be mad at Shawn. It’s really easy to get that way when I’m drowning in work and they’re playing games on their phone instead of doing an assigned task. However, I thing the majority of the blame lies with my boss. They are unwilling to bring in real help and are forcing their adult child to do work that they are obviously not suited for. Last week they told me that we just have to try to make it work. Unless someone can give me the tools and knowledge to truly do that, I’m done with trying.

    1. WellRed*

      Your last sentence is exactly what you need to do. Stop trying, stop caring. Stop making it work.

    2. Anonymous cat*

      Can she hire a part time person to keep him focused on work or teach him how to cope with things? And you could stop managing him.

  44. Jennifleur*

    Yes to all of this lol. I was hired to work in the same department as my mother for 6 months (unqualified assistant where she was a AHP), and although we never worked together I spent the whole time feeling insecure and like I couldn’t trust anyone’s feedback, because every single person in that department knew who I was!

  45. Jonathan MacKay*

    I worked for a small ‘family-owned’ cork distributor…… from what I understand, the direct owner of the branch I was working at was essentially owner ‘in-name-only’, haven been removed from decision making processes by his siblings. Given how stressful and unethical the work environment was before I left, I didn’t think there was much reason to doubt this aspect of things I was told…. though I did have to take it with a grain of salt due to who it was telling me.

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