There certainly are successful examples of family business owners hiring their spouses to join them in the workplace, but these would certainly be the exception rather than the rule.
What Could Go Wrong?
The professional workplace is separate from our personal lives, so having the two be connected in such a way can have negative effects on the most important relationship in your life. Hiring your spouse can be a very tricky proposition, and here are 6 reasons why:
Danger 1. Equal Partners (or Not)
In life and marriage, spouses are meant to be equal partners. But in business, someone has to be in charge. When the lines get blurred, there can be trouble, and this can extend into your personal life and change the wonderful dynamic you’ve enjoyed.
Danger 2. Who’s (Really) in Charge?
Employees get understandably confused when the boss and his or her spouse both work in the same office. Confusion can turn to jealousy and dissent if the spouse gets promoted or otherwise receives preferential treatment.
Danger 3. Bringing Work Home
For many hard-working business leaders, it’s a challenge to find a balance between work and life. Imagine how much greater the challenge when both spouses keep shop talk going when they’re at home having dinner. CEOs, business owners and other high-level executives ought to be able to switch from work mode to home life without the extra burden of a spouse facing the same challenge.
Danger 4. Disagreements Can Fester
Even the strongest marriage can be buffeted by ongoing arguments over business strategy or execution, and these squabbles can make others at home (and in the workplace) very uncomfortable.
Danger 5. Making a Change Just Got Harder
Part of a leader’s role is knowing when change is necessary and deciding how to implement it. If you determine a new direction is needed – change that adversely affects your spouse – it’s altogether likely that, at the very least, feelings will get hurt.
Danger 6. It’s Hard to Fire a Spouse (pay close attention to this one)
When you hire your spouse, you may be seeing them through rose-colored glasses rather than evaluating them as you would any other applicant. What if your spouse fails to live up to workplace expectations? No fail-proof method has yet been devised to fire that spouse without some sort of repercussions.
Hiring your spouse may not always be a bad idea, but there are many negatives to outweigh the positives. There are sufficient obstacles to success inherent in running any business, and some decisions should be thought through before being implemented.