According to the latest Employee Outlook 2015 survey, 55% of employees long for a family feel within their organizations. The survey which was carried out by the CPID in conjunction with Halogen Software, found that the employees desire an organizational culture which has “a family feel, held together by loyalty and tradition.” Click here to read more.
Unfortunately, only 26% of the employees polled (a total of 2,226 were polled) reported that their current organization provided such a culture. A full 50% described their workplace culture as “formalized and structured” where people were held together by procedures. Such characteristics are antithetical to the family feel. But then, why should an HR even bother about a concept as nebulous as a “family feel”?
Well, a 2011 Texas A&M University study found that businesses with a “family-like environment” inspired more trust and commitment from their employees. The study which focused on companies in the S&P 500 index discovered that such companies were outperforming their competitors, click here to read more. Therefore, a case can be made for having a family feel within an organization. If it leads to more “trust and commitment”, then it can translate into reduced absenteeism, lower turnover, greater teamwork and ultimately greater productivity.
The ultimate question is “what exactly is a family feel?” Understanding A Family Feel A family feel is basically an organizational environment in which employees feel a sense of belonging, freedom and commitment. This typically results from a culture which aims to make employees feel valued as individuals. Such a culture is typically characterized by transparency, inclusiveness and trust. Employees are encouraged to express their opinions and individuality without fearing that they will be judged. The organization also strives to ensure that every employee gets this sense of belonging. A family feel is most often expressed at team level. It involves a feeling of cordiality, camaraderie and solidarity among team members. The team members basically enjoy each other’s company. Each team member also has the confidence that the others have got their backs.
How To Create A Family Feel
Creating a family feel is more of an art than a science. There are no fixed measures which can work in every organization. However, here are a few tips which can be helpful in almost all organizational contexts.
Create An Open Door Policy
One of key things which give employees a sense of belonging is feeling that they have a voice. When employees can freely express their thoughts, ideas and opinions, this can improve a family feel around the workplace. As such, the first step to create a family feel is to establish an open-door policy. This basically means assuring your employees that they can approach management at anytime. It also means making managers receptive to suggestions from their subordinates. An open door policy doesn’t necessarily mean that doing whatever employees say. It is simply about giving them a voice. Even then, giving employees a voice almost always results into an explosion of better ideas.
Celebrate Employees Personal Milestones
Families typically celebrate even the tiniest victories (at least most of them do). As such, a simple way of creating a family feel is by celebrating employees. It is most effective when the celebrations are for personal milestones e.g. birthdays, marriages, the birth of a child. Even professional milestones like a promotion or an academic award can be grounds for celebration. It is important to note that the celebration doesn’t have to be a big party. Even the tiniest gestures of appreciation are effective. For instance, for a birthday, a simple “Happy Birthday” sing-song from team members, or a personalized Birthday card from the HR can be effective. It is often not the scale that matters – it is the thoughtfulness of the gesture.
Get Employees Together For Fun
Create opportunities where employees can get together and have fun. Examples include office parties, interdepartmental comedy contests, sports get-togethers, office picnics etc. The list endless. The most important thing is to encourage employees to let their guards down and have a jolly good time. One important aspect of these get-togethers is participation. Encourage every employee to participate as much as possible. Even then, stay sensitive to personality differences. Employees who are introverted may not enjoy being pushed to the spotlight. Remember, the goal is to ensure that every employee has a great time.
Create Unique Office Traditions
A great way to foster a feeling of uniqueness is through rituals and traditions. A tradition is something which can help employees to identify with the organization. It can be something as simple as a special way of greeting. For instance the MLM company, GNLD, the standard greeting is “Good Morning” irrespective of the time of the day. It can be a special way of inducting new employees. For instance at Google, during induction, one of the common challenges thrown to a new employee is “make us laugh”. It can be a periodic tradition.
For instance H&M – a Stockholm design company organizes “Cake Fridays” where employees bring home-baked cakes and share with each other. Another example is Method – an eco friendly cleaning company which throws a Prom Night party every summer. During the party, employees relieve their high school experience by dressing up their finest and asking “dates” to come along. Rituals and traditions create a feeling of distinction and uniqueness within an organization. It makes employees to feel part of something special. And of course it enables employees to socialize and have a great time. All this contributes towards fostering a family feel.
Provide A Comfortable Working Environment
The working environment contributes a great deal towards the overall feel of the workplace. An environment which looks all stiff and proper will make employees feel exactly that. A relaxed, comfortable environment will go a long way towards creating an overall family feel. Now, “comfortable” is a relative term. So, the best strategy is to ask your employees how you can make their working environment more comfy. By simply asking them, you will have already taken an important step towards creating a family feel.
Ultimately, every employer desires to have employees who are committed, devoted, focused and hardworking. Above all, every employer’s wildest dream is having employees who will stick with the organization especially when things get tough. One quick strategy for achieving this is through family feel HR. The above tips can help an organization to take the first steps towards creating a family feel.
“A great way to foster a family feel at work is maybe have functions or team building events during office hour. This will help build a family feel environment.” – Patria Williams, President- Williams Technical Staffing
“The article provides a good starting point for creating a more family-centric environment in the workplace. Most notable, in my opinion, is getting teams together for activities..I would even expand that to provide opportunities for employees and their families to get together.
However, company ownership/leadership needs to display a genuine interest in employees as individuals and consistently demonstrate respect for everyone. Without that, anything else will fall short of its intended effect. – Robert Blum, SPHR, SHRM-SCP