Money & Career

How to Deal With Nepotism in the Workplace

Nepotism is the practice of those in power favoring relatives and friends in the workplace. This can come in the form of hiring, promoting, or giving a raise to someone solely based on a personal relationship.

You put in the hours, work late nights, network in your spare time, volunteer in the community. Tet you still cannot seem to convince your boss that you deserve to be VP instead of their golfing buddy. 

There is no worse feeling than watching the CEO’s child or friend be given a position that was rightfully yours. There is a word for this type of behavior: nepotism. 

Nepotism is particularly rampant in family-owned businesses, but it can happen anywhere. Read on for tips on how to deal with nepotism within the workplace and when to seek out others’ help.

Dealing With Nepotism

Be professional

If someone is getting away with acting unprofessionally because of nepotism, that doesn’t mean you can, too. Always take the higher road, even if you are being provoked or already making plans to move on. You can only control yourself, so try to always act gracefully (or at least count to 10 before responding).

Also, try to resist gossiping with coworkers, both in-person and virtually — your words could easily come back around to haunt you.

Document your achievements

If you feel you are being passed over for opportunities in favor of someone less qualified, make sure to document all of your achievements at the company. When it comes time for a meeting with your manager, whether a regular check-in or a performance review, do not make it about someone else getting what you deserved. Rather, focus on what you bring to the table and the growth you’ve achieved for the business.

Talk to a confidant

Although you should not gossip with other coworkers, you can talk to an ally to help you with your situation. This could be either an HR representative or another employee who has no skin in the game. Multiple complaints could help tip the scales in your favor. However, be strategic with who you trust, and think carefully about how to bring your complaint forward without receiving backlash.

Know when to walk away

If you cannot solve the immense and complicated issue of nepotism, don’t be hard on yourself. And if you decide to leave the company and go off on your own, you always have options for becoming financially independent:

How Employers Can Avoid Nepotism

The disadvantages of nepotism are plenty. Employees want to know that their efforts are not in vain. If promotions and raises seem exclusive to friends and family, then morale is likely to go down. Low morale leads to decreased productivity and higher turnover rates, all of which hurt the bottom line.

Moreover, the employees that were hired or put in positions of power as a result of nepotism may not be truly qualified for their role. Their lack of experience could put the company at risk, lead to slower turnaround times, and generate inconsistent results for clients. For example, would you want an inexperienced project manager building your house just because they know the CEO? Probably not.

Establish anti-nepotism policies

A thoughtful anti-nepotism policy can help employers avoid nepotism while still allowing for the employment of family and friends. These policies restrict related people from either working in the same department or company.

Develop structured employee reviews

Standardized employee assessment can help prove or ensure that individuals do not benefit from nepotism. With a framework in place, you can watch for the signs. If a manager hires disrespectful or underqualified staff who does not pass muster, nepotism could be at play.

Nepotism is an ugly practice that should not be taken lightly. And if good workers reach their breaking limits and decide to leave, a boss could end up stuck with only bad apples.

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