Read this before calling your workplace "a family"

ALEX LAMONT • 22 Nov 2021

One of the most endearing characters in television history is Michael Scott from the US Office. A man who, for all his faults, cares effortlessly for each of his colleagues with the single exception of the HR Manager - Toby Flenderson. "Toby works in HR, which technically means he works for corporate," Michael famously says, "so he isn't really a part of our family." This is an interesting view of HR and here Alex Lamont from Jobtrain looks at the correlation between family and workplace and asks if Michael Scott's view of HR is an accurate one.

This must be the place

I've been thinking about this a lot recently, when a workplace becomes familial. Leadership teams refer to company culture as families more often than we might realise - 41% of companies, according to LinkedIn! It appears that some organisations are slapping the word Family above their doorways in an attempt to breed loyalty and commitment from their employees.

It's a cheery label - if not a little Freudian! With working from home, the workplace has crept out of Microsoft Teams and into the lives of our families. There's an immediate bond we have with our organisations when we consider our colleagues our family, and a sense of ownership that can accompany that, but the term on its own, without putting your money where your mouth is, can be damaging.

Family offers us stability. How are you communicating that stability throughout the day-to-day? Are you reinforcing it during the onboarding process? Is it a clear part of your EVP? If you use an applicant tracking system, make sure you use video and images to convey your company culture to potential new hires. After all - 46% of candidates say company culture is the most important thing for them starting a new job.

When it comes to the day-to-day, does your senior leadership encourage employees to use the benefits you offer? Something as simple as a company-wide reminder to all staff that they should use their holidays - can go further than you might think!

Families look out for each other. Are you considering the health of your employees? If someone is struggling is there an accessible policy in place for someone to reach out? Do you offer mental health days outside of statutory holidays? Your recruitment process must communicate this transparently to all new hires, with packs available during onboarding for them to read through.

HoW Talent (1)

But the most important thing a family gives us is purpose. We recently partnered with DNA - a leading Employer Brand Agency - on a webinar focusing on employee engagement, and that was the biggest takeaway. Employees engage with their business when they feel like they have purpose. Consistent reminders of why the work you're doing matters can be priceless. This needs to be highlighted at the start of the recruitment process too, whether it be in your job advert, or through an ATS with a content management system.

So remember, "The Company Family," should be the end result of the measures you take, not the starting point.

This article first appeared in Hr Network Scotland magazine in November 2021.

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