Fighting Nepotism at a workplace

Business Careers CEO Notebook

The popular Ugandan dailies have been awashed with the stories of how big people in the Ugandan governent have employed relatives to the government offices. This case of nepotism as we may call it (favoring family and friends over others for opportunities within the workplace) is a common occurrence in most of our workplaces. Relatives and friends being hired, promoted, offered desirable project assignments, preferred shifts or any other openly available opportunity in the workplace is very common.

While it is not illegal, nepotism is one of the more destructive practices managers can imbue in their workplaces. It is not only an inequitable way to promote employees, but it also limits opportunities for the employer. Nepotism cuts off a company’s ability to build teams authentically, promote top talent, develop organizational collaboration, expand shared knowledge and retain employees overall.

How to avoid nepotism in the workplace

Setting clear expectations through policy, practice, and culture is the only way to show all your employees that nepotism is not part of your company or its identity. Here are some recommendations to help you identify nepotism and avoid the practice within your business altogether.

  1. Develop an active anti-nepotism policy.
    This should be in the employee handbook and part of your leadership training. Strong anti-nepotism policies prohibit related individuals from working in the same department or company, or, more specifically, one family member reporting to another.
  2. Maintain detailed job descriptions.
    The template that sets up these other safeguards for success is the job description. Maintaining an accurate and detailed job description for each role is one of the best ways to keep team expectations grounded, leadership in check, and an open, communicative platform for all to see. Job descriptions should detail the skills, experience, and attributes employees need to qualify for any given position within the company.
  3. Conduct manager (or leadership) training.
    More than any other step, leadership training directly addresses the concerns of nepotism. A direct callout of the practice should include a clear definition of favoritism, a description of what it looks like in the workplace, and a statement that all managers are responsible for not only avoiding the practice but speaking up when they notice it.
  4. Create a transparent, communicative hiring and promotional culture.
    If the process for how new hires are selected and how employees are promoted is openly visible to all, it improves the chance of unity and trust-building within the organization. It is essential that the hiring and promotional processes are not mysterious at all, as that will increase the questioning and anxiety around actual or perceived favoritism.
  5. Develop an HR or senior management approval process for hires and promotions.
    To fortify the phalanx against nepotism, your human resources department should be involved before you or your managers make any final hiring or promotion-related decisions. Hopefully, your HR staff has the neutrality and authority to help govern these employment actions. Senior managerial approval is another good step in the hiring process for certain positions and promotions.

Fighting nepotism begins with you-What attitude do you have towards employment? Who do you recommend for certain position? Together we can fight nepotism in our society.

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