Should You Hire Your Friend?

You need to hire somebody for your business and it suddenly occurs to you; why not bring your friend on board?  It seems like the perfect solution- you know that your friend is reliable and the thought of you two working side-by-side sounds like fun!  What could go wrong?  Of course, you know that it’s not always that simple.  The decision to hire your friend could have negative consequences for both your business and your friendship.  Before you decide to turn your friend into your employee, consider the following questions:

Is your friend really the right fit for the job?

Force yourself to look at your friend’s skills and experience objectively.  Be honest, would you hire your friend based purely on her resume?  You may be tempted to overlook your friend’s limited experience because of your personal relationship, but if you are hiring people who aren’t actually qualified, your business will suffer and somebody (probably you) will be forced to pick up the slack.

Would you be comfortable evaluating and correcting your friend’s job performance?  

Think about some of the difficult conversations that you sometimes have to have with your employees:  “You have been making too many personal calls”, “Your work in the past few days has been a little sloppy”, or “I know that you want to take the weekend off, but I really need you in the office”  Now imagine yourself having these conversations with your friend.  Could you do it?  Would you feel uncomfortable?  How would your friend respond?  If it would be difficult for you communicate with your friend as an employee, it may not be a good idea to hire them.

Have you considered how working together may change the dynamic of your friendship? 

When your friend becomes your employee, it immediately changes your friendship.  While it can be hard to predict exactly how it will change, you can guarantee that it will change in some way.  You may find that your conversations together are suddenly limited to work-related topics, or that your friend is not as open with you as she used to be.  You need to be prepared to accept the fact that your friendship may never return to the way it was before.

If forced to make the choice, would you choose your business or your friendship?

If you hire your friend as an employee, you may one day be forced to make a difficult decision that will effectively end your friendship.  Alternatively, you could decide to maintain the friendship at the cost of your business.  If you know that you could never make that choice, it would be best for you to keep your friends and business separate.    

Many small business owners hire their friends and it often works out well.  There are definite advantages to having a strong relationship with your employees.  The problem is that it can turn something that should be a simple business problem into a complicated personal matter.  Also, it can cloud your judgement and cause you to make decisions that are not in the best interest of your business.  Hiring your friend could still be the best option for you, but make sure that you do it with your eyes open.

(Written by: Karen Bivand, Photo by: David Castillo Dominici/

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