19 September 2023

Nepotism: The Weights and Measures

Every gym owner faces a myriad of choices, from selecting the best equipment to deciding on class schedules. However, one decision that is not often given enough weight is the hiring process, especially when considering employing friends and family – something that is commonplace in the independent gym sector. Like any exercise, this choice has pros and cons, and it's essential to assess them critically before making a decision.


Pros of Hiring Friends and Family

Trustworthiness: Knowing an employee personally often means you can trust them more than a stranger. In an environment where member safety, financial transactions, and the integrity of equipment are critical, having someone you trust can be invaluable.

Loyalty: Friends and family are likelier to stick around through tough times, be committed to your gym’s success, and prioritise its needs.

Familiarity: Communication often comes naturally with someone you know well, allowing for quicker decision-making and easier problem-solving.

Cost-Effective Training: Given their relationship with you, they may require less formal training, saving you both time and resources.


Cons of Hiring Friends and Family

Performance: Are you employing this individual because of your personal relationship, or genuinely because they bring something positive to the business? If this person wasn’t a friend or family member, would you really be hiring them?

Blurred Boundaries: When personal relationships mix with professional settings, lines can blur. It might be challenging to give critical feedback or make tough decisions, like firing or disciplining them.

Perceived Favouritism: Other employees may feel that your friends or family are receiving preferential treatment, which can lead to a hostile work environment.

Compromised Professionalism: It's easy for casual behaviour to sneak in. Overly informal interactions might come across as unprofessional to members or other staff. It is also easy for cliques to form, and for other personnel to feel unable or uncomfortable raising concerns or suggesting alternatives.

Potential for Personal Fallout: If a professional relationship goes sour, it can spill over into personal life, and vice versa.


Tips for a Balanced Approach

So, if you're considering hiring someone you know personally, how can you tip the scales towards success? Here are a few tips:

Set Clear Boundaries: Discuss the distinction between personal and professional relationships before employing a friend or family member. Establish boundaries and expectations from the outset.

Formalize the Hiring Process: Make sure every hire, including friends and family, undergo the same rigorous hiring process. This can mitigate perceptions of favouritism and ensure you bring on someone truly qualified.

Open Communication: Foster an environment where open communication is encouraged. If issues arise, tackle them head-on to prevent them from escalating.

Consider their Qualifications: Evaluating whether they're truly the best fit for the role beyond the personal connection is crucial.

Feedback Mechanism: Establish regular check-ins and performance evaluations. This provides an opportunity for both parties to discuss concerns or areas of improvement.


The decision to hire friends and family into your gym shouldn’t be taken lightly. Like any intense workout, there are benefits and challenges to this approach. By understanding the implications, setting clear boundaries, and maintaining open communication, you can make an informed choice supporting your business's health and success.

Written by Chris Windram.


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