By Marcus Leach

According to new research 31% of small business owners admit to ‘favouring’ certain staff members; with the majority of whom labelling their ‘work ethic’ as the main reason why.

In a bid to discover more about workplace relations, has conducted a study of small businesses, with an aim to discover more about employers’ attitudes towards their members of staff.

The study polled 1,092 employers of 20 or less staff. Those taking part were asked questions about how they felt about their staff, as well as questions about general relations within the workplace.

According to the study, almost a third, 31% of the employers taking part admitted that they ‘favour’ certain members of their staff more so than others. Subsequently, these respondents were asked to explain their reasons for having preferences over staff members.

Of the 31% of small business owners who admitted to favouring certain members of staff, the majority, 39%, stated that they felt this way because the employee (s) had a ‘stronger work ethic’ than other members of the team. A further 11% said it was because of their ‘sense of humour in the work place’.

2% of the respondents who stated that they favour particular staff members over others said that they did so because the member of staff’s ‘appearance’; whilst 18% said that their ‘loyalty to company’ was why they favoured them over other team members.

Furthermore, over a quarter, 27%, of those who favoured certain employees over others, simply stated that it was because they ‘liked their personality.’

The total number of respondents were asked if they felt that they had ‘personal friendships’ with any members of their team, to which just under two thirds, 61%, said ‘Yes’. In contrast, 27% stated that they were not friends with any of their employees.

“Staff members in small businesses often form strong friendships, frequently because in smaller businesses the staff are more closely connected to the Managing Director and have a greater ability to make a real impact upon the business and its future success," Georgina Read, Co-Managing Director of, said.

"In many offices everyone experiences the highs and lows that smaller businesses go through together, and strong bonds often quite naturally form.

“Therefore, I am not surprised that bosses join in and form strong friendships with their employees. The happiest of workplaces are often the ones where everyone gets on well as friends, and these are often the ones that work better as a result. Whilst we would never condone favouritism amongst employers, it is human nature to be drawn to certain people. Business owners and Managers just need to be careful that no favouritism is shown, as this can be severely detrimental to the morale of the team.”

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