All In The Family – Why The Kinship Approach Is Vital To Organisations

Team Family

Most people spend eight hours a day or more at the workplace. The workplace has become not just a place to earn the daily bread but has evolved into somewhat of a lifestyle concept that impacts one’s thought processes, decision-making and personal life.

Ergo the workplace is a place in which employees would like to be happy, comfortable, and even feel like a second home with family-like atmosphere amongst the people they work with.

It is a good idea for companies to promote a family-like environment in the workplace so employees will be able to take in more positive influences and give out positive vibes in reciprocation to create a great organisational climate as well as strike a work-life balance for themselves.

There is a Malay adage that goes “air ditetak tidak akan putus” which means “cleaving water will not sever it”. The saying is akin to “blood is thicker than water”, referring to the enduring nature of family ties. In the business parallel, fostering kinship values and environment in the workplace can help to strengthen esprit de corps amongst employees, something which is worthwhile for every organisation to consider.

Policy is prime: creating a comprehensive employee handbook or manual that is clear and simply written would be an ideal first step. Seek employees’ suggestions for the manual so they feel a sense of belonging to the company.

Organisations can also help employees feel important by having regular townhalls or meetings where they can voice their opinions and concerns. This has a hidden benefit:  the organisation can gain valuable information about their business that may hurt the bottom line and immediately formulate appropriate action plans.

Hosting Family Days where employees can bring their real families, such as picnics, trips and dinners, where the management can mingle with the employees and get to know their families better, are also a great way of fostering the “family” sense. Employees who perceive that employers care about them and their families will be more productive and loyal as they feel “safe” with the organisation.

Family approaches are also conducive for emphasising trust: a team work environment where camaraderie means having each other’s back and not judging one another.  Employees are also more inclined to stick around during turbulent times when there is a cultural promise to unite as one in good times and bad.

Office ergonomics is also a vital aspect: just as the family home is comfortable, people at work need enough room to perform their jobs, the correct supplies and tools, and a pleasant environment. Organisations that take care of the ergonomic details of their environment are viewed as responsible employers.

Some simple tips:-

  1. Place lots of potted plants around. People feel healthier about themselves, their jobs and the work they perform when they feel a connection to nature around them.  If live plants are not an option, pictures or posters of outdoor scenes have some benefit.
  2. Change air filters regularly, and if appropriate, allow employees to keep their windows open to let in healthy fresh air.
  3. Utilise real sunlight when possible. If offices or workspaces don’t have window access, install ample overhead florescent lights.
  4. Offer healthy food choices in the cafeteria as healthy food helps people think better, improves mood and increases energy levels.
  5. Allow employees to personalise their work space, within reason. This can also be therapeutic for them as it allows them to relax by looking at family photos, vacation souvenirs or motivational mini-posters.

Finally, celebrate employees’ milestones both at work (promotions, completion of projects, jobs done well, positive feedback or praises from clients) and off work (marriages, new baby, graduations). Organisations which recognise, appreciate and reward are respected by their workforce. Respect brings about employee commitment and allegiance to the organisation which are crucial to reduce the employee turnover rate.


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