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Recruiting, Retaining And Motivating Staff In A Family Business

Family businesses need to position themselves as attractive propositions to appeal to new executives. It is well documented that many family businesses struggle moving towards professionalising the business in terms of the people employed due to the very nature of them being family businesses.

In essence, family businesses need to position themselves as attractive propositions to appeal to new executives who may have never previously ventured into the world of family business where there is the inevitable overlap between the family and the business.

For many professionals, moving from a totally corporate world to one where the family involvement can have significant involvement and influence over many aspects of the day-to-day operations, and where emotions can easily flow over into the business, the decision is not easy. Add to the mix that recruitment is one thing, retention and motivation are other things altogether and again an area where family businesses can struggle.

Adding to the family skills mix and growing the family business often necessitates looking to outsiders to help the business grow.

So what can family businesses do to increase their chances of success when it comes to employing and engaging with non-family executives?

Some of the key steps that family businesses need to adhere to include the creation of a clear and transparent process for managing all staff, one that is seen to be effective and fair and that ensures that individuals are appraised appropriately and on a timely basis. Things to consider include:

  • A clear set of objectives for everyone

  • Live the process and make sure it is respected and real- managing people is the role of line management and not HR

  • Appraisals and rewards need to be linked

  • Understand the motivations of management and staff

  • Recognise and celebrate achievements

  • Provide opportunities for career progression

  • Create a framework for training and personal development to bring out the best in everyone – offer mentoring or coaching to allow everyone to maximise their potential

  • Make the most of the working environment

  • Keep abreast of market rates and salary levels

  • Clear communication is paramount

  • Stick to the rules

Paul Andrews, Founder and Managing Director of Family Business United says, “Family firms have a wonderful opportunity to differentiate themselves through the way they treat their people. Often viewed as employers of choice with significantly higher retention rates than non-family firms, a reliance on loyalty alone is not enough."

"Everyone, be they family or non-family members, wants to be treated fairly. A transparent, clear and simple set of policies which are applied with rigour and demonstrate respect for the individual are essential. Moreover, a recruitment and development policy that is closely aligned to the strategy of the family firm is essential. If you can clearly articulate and agree upon a strategy, then leadership frameworks can be readily defined.”

Developing a proper framework for people should help to increase the attractiveness of the family business to non-family executives and to ensure that once the right individuals have been recruited, they are well rewarded, incentivised and happy, and therefore more likely to stay for the longer term too.

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