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Promoting professionalism: Why nepotism must be a thing of the past

Lee Biggins, founder of CV-Library


In worrying news for workers across the UK, recent research from CV-Library reveals that almost two-thirds of the nation’s employees have experienced nepotism in the workplace, as 61.3% of professionals confessed to either falling victim to or witnessing nepotism occur at their place of work.


As the job market flourishes and the millennial generation continues to enter workforces across the country, the importance of professionalism shouldn’t be underestimated; nepotism must be eradicated, while businesses should embrace a fair and open culture.


In order to uncover the prevalence of nepotism in the UK’s workforces, and how it impacts employee attitudes at work, the research was compiled of responses from over 2,300 of the nation’s workers. Sadly, the data suggests that a staggering 81.4% of professionals believe that nepotism does still exist in the UK, while almost two-thirds have seen it taking place at work first-hand.


To find the root of this unacceptable workplace behaviour, we asked the nation’s workers to share their most common experiences. And raking in over a third of the votes, it appears that seeing favoured colleagues receive preferential treatment is the biggest problem, with 37.4% of respondents naming this as their most common experience of nepotism in the workplace. Coming in second place was witnessing a candidate get a job that they’re not qualified for, as over a quarter (27.9%) of UK employees confessed to seeing this take place.


Worse still, in addition to witnessing preferential treatment, 22.4% of the nation’s professionals have seen co-workers get away with things that other workers would be disciplined for, simply highlighting the double standards and favouritism that still exists in today’s working world. And in a worrying twist, 5.3% of the respondents admitted that they’ve actually benefitted from this behaviour, as they were personally offered a job through favouritism, while 2.2% confessed that they’ve been the one to offer a job to someone underqualified, in an act of preferential treatment.


It’s a worrying reality that nepotism is now trickling through the UK’s workplaces and into the recruitment process; there are many talented candidates out there who could be missing out on deserved job opportunities due to unfair favouritism. It’s a behaviour pattern that often presents itself in the form of internal hires, as external hires will be encouraged to apply and even interview, without standing any real chance of landing the job; a frustrating process for both candidates and recruiters.


So the question is, what can be done to tackle the situation? While dubbed as an extreme solution by some, one suggestion has been to stop interviews altogether; a trend that has taken off in India, where assessments and aptitude tests are now favoured over interviews. And when we asked the UK’s professionals how they felt about this as a solution, 43% of respondents were in agreement.


As more emphasis is placed on the practical capabilities of a candidate through the use of assessments and aptitude tests, over half (50.4%) of professionals agree that this would be more effective than an interview when determining suitability.


But there is scepticism surrounding this approach; a lot of nepotism occurs internally, so banning interviews wouldn’t necessarily solve this issue, and could actually make the problem worse. For many, interviews are a key stage in the recruitment process, as they do offer valuable insight into a candidate’s personality and talents. Furthermore, interviews should be a two-way process; they also allow prospective employees to suss out their potential employer and colleagues, and decide whether the company is right for them.


Ultimately, nepotism in the workplace is almost impossible to deal with, especially for those experiencing it first-hand. The good news is that the job market is flourishing, and there are plenty of opportunities for recruiters to recommend to candidates.


However, to achieve placements, it’s more important than ever that recruiters fully understand their clients’ needs, to ensure that they’re putting forward the best, most talented candidates. While it is difficult to overcome nepotism, particularly in the form of internal hires, putting forward candidates who perfectly match the job role is key to overcoming the issue.


While some employers may have an internal staff member in mind for the role, recruiters who have a detailed understanding of a role’s requirements and effectively ‘sell’ a more qualified external candidate will be most successful, ultimately helping to drive nepotism from today’s businesses.


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