Nepotism in the workplace is an evil that can eat away your motivation to work even if you are getting paid millions. It lowers your motivation and can also affect your emotional and mental wellness. No matter how well you perform, you will not get praised for the hard work you put in your work; instead, someone else will probably hound your efforts to get undue credit.
Remember, you can be the victim, the perpetrator, or a silent witness. Whichever one you are, you must realize your standing and take necessary measures in time to avert the situation and create a harmonious work environment.
If you are the victim, it is only right for you to take a stand against injustice. If, however, you are the team lead or manager, then you ought to make amends to ensure everyone has equal footing in the team. And, if, God forbid, you are the perpetrator and haven’t realized the extent of your actions, then it is time to evaluate yourself lest you reach a point of no return.
What Can Nepotism in The Workplace Mean?
Nepotism refers to the preferential treatment accorded to a relative or friend unjustly. Preferring a person related to you is not the issue as long as they possess the necessary qualifications.
Nepotism in the workplace can refer to the favorable treatment of one candidate over another. It can also mean hiring someone on the basis of your relationship, not their skills. However, if you reject a qualified candidate in favor of an ineligible candidate of your choice, that is professionally and ethically wrong.
It can also manifest itself in the form of certain employees or employees getting away with mistakes that others are berated for. It is also there when rules and regulations suddenly become flexible to accommodate someone special, while for others, they remain particularly rigid.
Nepotism brings a sense of entitlement to the person getting favored. Because of this undue favoritism, they get away with anything they want and are given the leeway that others aren’t.
How To Identify Nepotism?
While you might have a general idea of nepotism and how it works, here are a few pointers that can help you pinpoint the actions and behavior that qualify as nepotism in the workplace:
- Underqualified: The person hired for the job does not possess the skills or qualifications necessary to do the job.
- Uneven Workload Distribution: Workload is unevenly distributed among the employees, with one person getting away with less while others are burdened with heavier workloads.
- Accountability: The favored person is not held accountable for their mistakes or errors, while others have to face reprimands for similar actions.
- Entitlement: Employees with a backer manifest entitlement and are often unprofessional.
- Critical Information: Critical information is shared with certain employees, who are the first ones to know.
- Untimely Promotions: Certain individuals are quick to climb the ladder to the top while deserving candidates are left hanging.
- Opportunities: Certain opportunities are accorded to the favored individual, which others are deprived of. These can include the kind of work they do, the amount of time, etc.
- Unwarranted Praise: The person in favor is praised for the smallest things and gets rewarded with a raise, incentive, or bonus, although others are neither rewarded verbally nor monetarily.
Nepotism can make your work unbearable and for completely irrational reasons. And it is completely reasonable of you to feel bad about it. It isn’t because your boss is strict or you are getting paid less than you feel dissatisfied, but because some people are getting favored unjustly.
That being said, if you encounter nepotism at your workplace, you should not sit still but take active action to resist it. Whether it is affecting you or not should not hinder you from taking up the issue with the top management.
The following section will help you with the steps you can take to contest nepotism.
How To Handle Nepotism? – Things You Can Do as An Employee:
As an employee, you might feel as if there is nothing you can do, but it is not so. The following pointers will help you with your plan of action:
1. Be Sure About It:
Before you do anything, make sure that the actions or behavior that do not sit right with you qualify as nepotism. Your personal feelings or judgment about a person should not be the deciding factor. Also, just because a person is related to the boss or the manager does not mean that they are getting favored. Perhaps they possess the necessary skills for the job and have earned their place rightfully.
Since you will be taking up the issue with the higher management, you have to be certain that it is, in fact, nepotism. Otherwise, not only will you taint someone’s reputation but also become the laughingstock of the office for your childishness.
2. Gather Evidence:
Once you have made certain that a certain individual or individuals are getting undue favor, you can start gathering evidence to support your claim and argue against it. This includes talking with other employees to document their experiences.
Collect as much evidence as you can that can substantiate your claim. This evidence will come in handy when you fight your case, and the testimony of other employees will further strengthen your narrative.
3. Stay Professional:
While your feelings are completely justified, you cannot resort to unprofessionalism to fight unprofessionalism. Be as professional as you can be. Not only is it ethical, but it will make your case stronger.
Furthermore, remember you do not have the same liberty as the other person. While they might get away with things, you will be held accountable, and the blame game will not do. You have to resist the injustice as gracefully as you can. Just as you fight evil with kindness, resist unprofessionalism with professionalism.
4. Contact HR Or Someone Reliable:
Suppose you think that the HR department will not be of much help or might turn down your request. In that case, it’s better to look for a reliable individual who not only has the power to take up your application to the higher-ups but will also keep it confidential to protect your identity. To voice your concerns about the issue, go to the HR department to file a formal complaint or ask for relevant procedures.
Make sure that it stays under wraps until the top management is ready to take action. That way, you can clear any misunderstandings and not alert the individuals involved.
5. Keep Yourself Happy and Healthy:
Constant stress from encountering such a situation can take a toll on your physical and mental health, so you must take time out to rid yourself of all the negativity and stay fresh. If you think the workplace environment has become unbearable, you can take your work home to work remotely or change to hybrid working.
If that does not help, take a break for a few days. Take some days off work and enjoy a tiny little vacation at home. Unwind from the constant stress during this time and freshen up your mind.
6. You Before Anything Else:
If nothing works out and the situation does not change, then it is time you get rid of it completely. Prioritize your health and your well-being over everything else. Pack your stuff and leave the toxic environment, for there is nothing more important than you.
Turn in your resignation and start looking for a healthier work environment. With a healthy and fresh mind, the quality of your work will improve by leaps and bounds. Don’t worry about this and that. It’s time for a fresh start!
How To Handle Nepotism? – Things You Can Do as A Manager:
If you are not an employee but a manager or someone from the top management and encounter a similar situation, then you can take help from the following pointers and see how you can tackle this mammoth.
1. Evaluate Yourself and Others:
Before you lash out or blame others as someone in a slightly better position, you must evaluate your behavior first and see if you have been doing the same. Foster this ability in yourself and others to recognize nepotism in your workplace.
2. Create Anti-Nepotism Policies:
To ensure that your workplace environment is harmonious, create and implement anti-nepotism policies throughout the organization. Make sure everyone onboard is judged equally, and the rules are the same for everyone.
These policies are put in place to ensure you steer clear of nepotism in your workplace. Some policies may include:
- Related individuals are assigned to different teams and are not placed under each other’s supervision
- Existing relationships are declared beforehand
- New relationships are declared as soon as they are established
- Recruiting officers are not in charge of reviewing their relatives or friend
- Cases are handled objectively
Remember, anti-nepotism policies are not against relationships of any kind. They are implemented to ensure that there are no favors and that people are judged and rewarded objectively, not based on personal feelings.
3. Be Fair:
As someone in power, you ought to lead by example. Treat everyone equally. No employee should get preferential treatment. The only thing that should be favored is work ethics and quality. Make sure that the policies set beforehand apply to everyone from the bottom to the top, including yourself.
If you stand accused, you should be treated like anybody else in the company. Fairness in judgment will go a long way and foster a healthy environment.
Another thing to note, make sure that the evaluation process is fair and square. Evaluate everyone on the same standards. Although nepotism is a poison, it can’t be cut with nepotism. You have to be fair here to create a happy workplace environment for everyone.
You cannot be biased when rewarding promotions. Since your aim is a happier environment, you have to create a specified structure for promotions. All the individuals will follow the same channel to climb the ladder to the top. No one should be able to bypass a step or get an untimely promotion.
Everyone should be entitled to the same rewards, so define the structure beforehand and make sure everyone is aware of the hierarchy and how it works.
5. Encourage Communication:
Sometimes, nepotism might evade your eyes since you are not directly involved in the operations. In such cases, you have to ensure that your employees have full confidence in you and report the issue to you.
Give them the confidence and trust to confide in you. As a manager, you might not be able to identify the discrepancy, but as employees, their keen observation will help you identify and deal with the issue. You cannot eradicate a problem if you do not talk about it, so make sure your employees can rely on your completely and are confident enough to take up the issue with a firm stance.
Nepotism in the workplace is a fairly common behavior. If you are not a victim, then you might be a witness. No matter your position in the equation, you ought to fight it as strongly as possible.
Even if you fail, your courage might motivate someone else to take the lead and stand against it in their own position.
We sincerely hope the pointers listed above will help you in your fight against evil. Hope the odds are in your favor!
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