How to Handle Nepotism in the Workplace

Dealing with workplace nepotism can be frustrating.
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Whether deliberate or unintentional, workplace nepotism threatens positive corporate culture. Managers who give special treatment to their family members decrease the morale of the other employees. Finding yourself on the non-receiving end of coveted assignments can be rough—especially when the recipient also lacks adequate employment qualifications. Handling nepotism in the workplace without damaging your reputation is essential to your career progression.

    Step 1

    Document specific incidents of any perceived nepotism. Contacting the human resources department with generic complaints will prove counterproductive—especially if nepotism has been an ongoing workplace issue. Take note of important details such as the dates of exchanges, dialogue and circumstances surrounding the events. Identify witnesses, as they may be needed to substantiate elements of your claims.

    Step 2

    Gather the impressions and experiences of your coworkers without raising caution flags. Weave your way into conversations about workplace happenings. Engaging in casual banter helps build bonds and tear down walls. Ask probing—but stealthy—questions about overall workplace happiness, workload and supervisor treatment. Identify potential supporters for in-depth, follow-up conversations. Use your gut instinct and knowledge of past coworker behavior when forming alliances.

    Step 3

    Ensure that your work is top-notch and that your attitude is professional. Prepare for possible backlash from upset management and coworkers. Being a whistle-blower may make you a target for extra scrutiny, unfair evaluations and even more not-so-great assignments. Use your frustration as motivation to keep fighting for an ethical workplace.

    Step 4

    Secure a confidential HR appointment. It may be necessary to circumvent usual procedures if your complaints involve your direct supervisors. Schedule the meeting at an inconspicuous time to avoid undue speculation from coworkers. Remain professional and concise during the meeting, as your conversation will be documented. Present HR with copies of any pertinent information. Speaking with more than one representative helps ensure timely investigation of your claim.

    Step 5

    Find therapeutic outlets outside of your workplace. Activities such as cycling, gardening and writing music restore energy and counter negativity. Keeping your stress in check will help you remain confident while confronting the nepotism in your workplace.


    • Exploring your employment options, including changing departments, can help make you feel more secure in the face of on-going nepotism.

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