Could HR solve...? Nativity

Workpace nepotism could be to blame for a dangerously unsuitable hire

The problem

Teacher Paul Maddens is tasked with putting on a show-stopping nativity at St Bernadette’s school but finds himself hindered by teaching assistant Mr Poppy, whose endearing enthusiasm is matched only by his disregard for safety. Worst of all, he turns out to be the headteacher’s nephew – which may be the only reason he got the job in the first place. 

The solution

While the children enjoy Mr Poppy’s techniques, it’s clear they are not safe to be left in his care. And that’s where his relationship with headteacher Mrs Bevan may come under scrutiny, says Denise Jennings, head of HR at RotaCloud.

“To avoid conflict, many organisations allow the employment of relatives only if they do not work in the same department, or are not in a reporting relationship,” she says. Hopefully, St Bernadette’s recruitment process will have been sufficiently objective to stand up to scrutiny but, having hired the madcap assistant, it’s vital the school manages him effectively.

“Mr Poppy should have regular probationary reviews with his line manager, who should not be the teacher with whom the familial relationship exists,” says Jennings. Proper performance management could consider issues such as his removal of children from school premises or bringing animals into the classroom without a full risk assessment.

However, Jennings points out that it is important not to write Mr Poppy off based on first impressions: “Once he is given feedback and the support he needs, he may shine.”