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Creating a culture so work feels like family

Over half of employees want a workplace culture with a 'family feel', according to a CIPD survey. Yet despite this, just over a quarter describe their current workplace as such.

What exactly is the upside of a ‘family feel’ culture beyond employee satisfaction? It turns out employee satisfaction alone is important from a business perspective: happy, satisfied people make for more productive and engaged employees.

Find out how our business health and wellbeing services could support both your business and employees here.

Creating a familial atmosphere at work also encourages strong team relationships which can result in better dynamics helping people to work together more effectively. Not just that, but establishing a sense of loyalty is also a key factor in staff retention. Sound good? Here are some ideas to help you foster a family culture at work.

How to create a family feel in your workplace

1. Encourage expression

Families – at the least the kind a company would want to emulate! – encourage honesty amongst members. If you want to create a family feel at work, the same honesty should be encouraged between employees and managers. You can establish this through a clear open door policy and by giving employees concerns, ideas and thoughts genuine weight. Of course not every comment will be acted on upon, but by paying attention to it and giving a measured response you will validate the employee and help demonstrate that their opinion matters.

2. Foster an attitude of gratitude

When an employee does something amazing – shout about it! While focusing on areas of improvement is incredibly important for businesses, it’s imperative this doesn’t come at the expense of celebrating successes. Whether you take a more structured approach and create an ‘employee of the month’ award or simply express genuine thanks for their efforts in person, a dose of gratitude goes a long way towards employees feeling happy and secure at work.

3. Be social

There is lots of work to be done in a family: meals need cooking, rooms need tidying, homework needs completing and so on and so forth. It’s all necessary work, but it would be pretty boring and uninspiring if that is all that took place. Families know this and that’s why they also prioritise quality downtime together too. You can extend this to the workplace by encouraging a more social atmosphere which will help nurture better relationships between employees.

In the current climate, we appreciate that it is more difficult for colleagues to be social, while socially distancing. Remember, however, that being socially distant doesn't have to equal being emotionally distant as well. For home-based employees, organise virtual get togethers like quizzes, team fitness or office breakfast clubs. Teams of 6 can also begin to meet socially in outdoor spaces like parks, provided that they properly socially distance.

4. Be genuinely interested in employees 

All of this effort will read as disingenuous if you aren’t genuinely interested in your employees. And if you’re keen to create a family atmosphere at work, we’re going to take a stab in the dark and say you are! So show it. Celebrate your employees’ personal milestones, whether that’s running a marathon or getting married. You don’t have to spend lots of money or make a huge deal out of it, but a simple card or a few heartfelt words will show them that work cares about them beyond their productivity levels.

5. Focus on team building

Part of what makes being part of a family so special is the focus on nurturing relationships. To do this in the workplace you’ll want to focus on team building so that employees form and cultivate workplace relationships which in turn will improve the office dynamics. There are typically many opportunities for this within the workplace, from planned team building away days to cross-departmental collaboration projects. Be creative to consider what you can do, while respecting lockdown guidelines.

6. Make work comfortable

The working environment has a big impact on the overall atmosphere of a workplace so it follows that an overly formal workplace will make employees feel, well, overly formal! If you’re after creating a family feel, you’ll want your workspace to reflect that. That means comfort should be a priority – speak to your workforce and see what this means to them (while respecting social distancing). It could mean a more ergonomic work station or it could mean more art on the walls. Just asking the question will go some way towards creating a more open workplace culture. Don't forget about any employees working from home - keep checking in to make sure their set-up is comfortable.

7. Create specific office traditions

Traditions help us to bond and in a business they can act as a mark of distinction – so why not come up with your own one? It will depend on the current culture of your workplace but a few ideas could include a monthly bake off, dress down Fridays or a Christmas ugly jumper competition.

The benefits of a ‘family feel’ culture could include more satisfied staff, improved productivity and retention levels and better workplace camaraderie and dynamics. Ultimately whether you choose to embrace such a culture is entirely dependent on your workplace and your organisational goals. 


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