Kamag-anak Inc.: To hire or not to hire



“Okay lang. Basta huwag kamag-anak. (It’s fine, as long as the person is not a relative).”

This was the statement of an acquaintance when he was considering options on where to source an employee for his small shop. I vividly remember the conversation as I thought it was quite irrational not to hire relatives and I told him this — if one has the capacity to provide employment, would it not make sense for him to hire a relative? Wouldn’t a relative have a relatively higher concern for his business compared to a stranger? Wouldn’t one also prefer to help a relative that needs a source of income as opposed to a complete stranger?

The viewpoint of this said acquaintance did not support my line of thinking. For him, it was more difficult to hire a relative as his family had a bad experience in doing so. He did hire a relative before. Conflicts arose as the hired relative did not know how to accept professional criticism. Relationship with the hired relative quickly deteriorated, and the fallout included damaged relationships with other family members who were quick to take sides.

According to DLSU professor Dr. Andrea Santiago, a family business expert, the attitude of family businesses toward employing relatives can be directly related to the worldview of the family itself. A worldview is how we tend to see the world as a whole. It can be shaped by a lot of factors. Past experiences largely affect it. Our worldviews also have a lot to do with the level of trust we are willing to confer to other people.

In her upcoming book, Dr. Santiago captures this worldview in a trust continuum. Families who generally have high trust in other people would not have any problems hiring non-relatives, while those who have a low trust worldview believe that you can only rely on relatives. The former type of families would largely base hiring and/or promotion on merit rather than on the basis of blood, while the latter puts a priority on blood relations with the business owners. Merit may or may not become a factor for the latter.

However, my acquaintance’s experience tells us that he has a high degree of distrust of hiring relatives. He previously subscribed to the worldview of trusting relatives exclusively until the bad experience with the hired relative described. Since then, he did not employ any more relatives. This policy also backfired on him, as relatives thought that he was very selfish and did not prefer to share his blessings with relatives.

Stuck between a hard place and a rock, what would you have done in his place?

Shieradel Jimenez is a Teaching Associate at the Management and Organization Department of De La Salle University, where she teaches Management of Organizations and Human Behavior in Organizations. She is also taking up her Doctor of Business Administration course in the same university. She welcomes comments at shieradel.jimenez@dlsu.edu.ph. The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty, and its administrators.


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