Nepotism in the Workplace

Nepotism in the workplace is a topic that often stirs up strong emotions. Some people feel that it’s unfair putting family members in positions of power, while others see nepotism as a natural way of rising through the ranks. 

No matter where you stand on the issue, it’s important to understand how nepotism can impact your career. We hope that after reading this article, you have a better understanding of what nepotism is and get better at dealing with nepotism in the workplace if it comes up in your career.

What Is Nepotism?

You’ve heard the term nepotism before, but what does it actually mean? Nepotism is the act of favoring someone based on their personal connections rather than qualifications or merits. It can be controversial because it can interfere with the principle of meritocracy, which implies that people should be hired and promoted based on their abilities and qualifications. 

Critics argue that nepotism allows promoting unqualified family members in business. At the same time, supporters say that nepotism is simply a way of ensuring that family members are taken care of. In most cases, nepotism is legal as long as there is no element of coercion involved.

Nepotism in the Workplace

Nepotism at work can be a major barrier to equal opportunity in the workplace. When qualified candidates are passed over for jobs or promotions in favor of someone with a personal connection to the decision-maker, it creates an unequal playing field. This can lead to resentment and division among employees. Nepotism may take place without anyone being aware of it.

Employees should be educated about where nepotistic biases might exist within the organization so that they can express their concerns appropriately and diligently. This increases employees’ confidence in expressing their dissatisfaction professionally and courteously. 

Learn more: Employee Satisfaction Statistics

The cost of losing excellent people is not the thing to consider.

Nepotism in the workplace has the potential to cause problems for both the employer and workers, including the risk of lawsuits and complaints.

Recruiting, testing, and training new staff takes time and money. Productivity will be low for weeks. In addition, you may risk getting a negative reputation at work if you’re hiring family members of employees.

Social exchange relationships are vital to comprehending nepotism. Hiring relatives in the workplace in that sense means that if an individual does someone a favor, that person feels obliged to return the favor. 

The Pros and Cons of Nepotism in the Workplace

There are several advantages to nepotism in the workplace. 

  • Nepotism can help you bypass the competitive process and get ahead faster. 
  • Relatives can often provide support and encouragement, which can be helpful when you’re facing a difficult work situation. 
  • Nepotism can help build strong relationships within a company. This can make it easier to get things done and increase feelings of teamwork and camaraderie.
  • Finally, nepotism can help keep family businesses alive and thriving.

On the other hand, the first thing to remember is that nepotism can backfire.

  • Nepotism in the workplace can impact the quality of work.
  • It can create tension and conflict among coworkers who may feel that they don’t have a fair chance at advancement.
  • Employees are likely to seek employment elsewhere.

Learn more: Employee Retention Statistics

How to Handle Nepotism in the Workplace?

If you suspect that nepotism is present in your company, there are a few things you can do. 

  • First, try to talk to your supervisor or HR department to get a better understanding of the company’s policy on nepotism.
  • If you feel like they treat you unfairly, you may want to file a formal complaint. 
  • Finally, remember that nepotism is not always a bad thing. If you have a good relationship with your boss or coworker, it can be advantageous.

If you’re in a position of power, create a policy that can help prevent nepotism by creating explicit policies against it. This will let everyone know that it’s not tolerated.

What to Look for and How to Identify Nepotism

If you notice that a manager’s family member is not penalized for coming late to work, missing deadlines, or failing to comply with dress codes, this is an indication of nepotism. This is because the figure of authority is favoring a family member by exempting them from the same standards imposed on other workers in the department.

If a person’s family member is persistently unprofessional and practices violence in the workplace, this might be an indication of nepotism. This is because a family member with the power to stop this behavior refuses to do so out of favoritism for their relative.

Finally, if your workers bring up issues regarding nepotism directly to you or HR, it’s a clear indication of nepotism and no one should overlook it. Talk with the employee and the person who hired them about what they’ve seen and whether there’s anything more you can do.

Nepotism in Business

While many small businesses are family-owned, business owners often worry that non-family employees will not be favoring family members brought into the business. 

Nepotism is commonly favored in many smaller family-owned firms since it’s a cost-effective source of labor and a form of succession.

Although there are few rules regulating nepotism at either the state or federal level, it’s prohibited in some states. In reality, some jurisdictions have no provisions addressing nepotism. Despite this, the ramifications of nepotism may raise your liability for creating a hostile work environment.

You may be involved in a legal dispute if one of the affected persons decides to file a lawsuit against the firm. Even if the conflict doesn’t escalate to a lawsuit, it can impact the work environment for those involved as well as their coworkers. Such situations often result in either one or both individuals getting fired.

Types of Nepotism

Each type has its unique characteristics, which we will explore in detail. By understanding the differences between these two types, you can better identify them. 

  • Entitlement nepotism is when a person receives special treatment. This type of nepotism often results in preferential treatment in terms of hiring, promotions, or assignments. Entitlement nepotism can be damaging to morale and create an environment of favoritism and inequality.
  • Reciprocal nepotism, on the other hand, is based on the reciprocity of favors. In this form of nepotism, goods are given in exchange for services. For example, someone may help their relative get a job in exchange for that person helping them with something else down the road.

Both types of nepotism can be positive or negative depending on the situation. Entitlement nepotism can lead to people feeling entitled to things that they haven’t earned, which can be negative. Reciprocal nepotism can create a better environment in the workplace and can be positive because happy employees are five times more likely to stay.

In the end, it’s up to the individual to decide whether or not they want to engage in nepotism. There are pros and cons to both types of nepotism, so it’s crucial to weigh all of the options before making a decision.


So, is nepotism good or bad? While this can be beneficial for the business in terms of maintaining stability and promoting trust, it can also lead to resentment among employees who don’t have family connections. 

Nepotism can be a difficult issue to deal with, but by taking action, you can help level the playing field and create a fairer workplace for everyone.