What’s the difference between work culture and family culture? Pretty much nothing. Here’s how to apply best practices from human resources and company culture for a smoother running, happier household.
After many years working in human resources from Juicy Couture to nonprofits and becoming a mother of four, I’ve realized two things:
- A family is a lot like a company, and a home is a lot like an office environment.
- Whether it’s at work or at home, a group’s culture is dictated by those within it, and it needs constant nurturing.
A workplace culture is the shared values, belief systems, attitudes and set of assumptions that people in a workplace share.
A positive workplace culture improves teamwork, raises morale, increases productivity, efficiency, and improves employee retention. Job satisfaction, collaboration, and work performance are all enhanced. And, most importantly, a positive workplace environment reduces stress in employees.
Just replace “employees” with “family members” — all the same principles apply to the family environment!
For a good, positive culture, employees/family members need to feel appreciated, heard, understood and recognized.
Here are five ways to use what works in your company to improve your home life:
1. Define clear roles and responsibilities in your home. Employees / family members do their best work when they know what is expected. Yes, even from your 3-year old, even though their responsibilities might just be throwing dirty clothes in the hamper and brushing teeth every night.
2. Establish rewards, recognitions and celebrations. Showing appreciation for an employee or family member’s efforts and jobs well done is insanely motivating for the entire group. For example, if you tell your kid: “Great effort folding the laundry and you did it after I asked only one time!” They’ll want future praise (and bonus if another family member overhears it and is motivated to do the same!)
Rewards don’t need to cost money, either! For employees, an extra day of paid time off does the trick. With kids, concentrated time together can be a reward, without a treat or toy. “Thank you for emptying the dishwasher. Now that you finished so quickly, want to play a card game with me?”
3. Create a teamwork mentality. In a company or at home, humans want to feel part of a group where people have each other’s back. Make sure your family knows, you’re all in this together.
4. Establish clear ethos and values for the organization and family. What is important to your family? What do you stand by? For my family we’re all about: Respect. Teamwork. Fun! Print out your values and post them for the whole family to see. It helps enormously to diffuse situations more quickly when you have this framework. For example, if one of your kids insults another, you can point to the values and say, “Is that how our family operates?”
5. Foster collaboration and communication. It’s tempting to keep things to yourself you don’t think your kids need to know about or won’t care about, but open and transparent communication is critical to foster a trusting family or work environment. Think about all the times your company kept something from you that you’d have really appreciated knowing so you could feel part of the team and decision-making. Think about your favorite bosses, they were probably the ones that kept you in the loop the most.
With open communication, family members can better support each other and understand why we each do what we do. It also sets up a dynamic where your kids will want to tell you things that are going on for them.
For example, I honestly couldn’t care less about Skylanders and Pokemon, but my son loves these. When he wants to tell me about them, I give him my full attention (even though I’d rather do almost anything including banging pans together in front of my face instead of listen to another pokemon fact about how much damage it has). I do this because I want him to know he can tell me anything, and I will listen. I want to harness this now so that when he has something IMPORTANT to tell me, he knows I’ll listen and not dismiss him.
In our home, we tell the kids when we’re hurt or having a tough time. We don’t hide our emotional spectrum. It’s not weak to show emotions to your kids, it’s actually quite courageous. When parents do this, it gives kids an unspoken invitation to feel their feels in a safe space.
6. Create an inclusive work environment. An inclusive workplace is one that values individual differences in the workforce and makes them feel welcome and accepted. All family members should be given the same opportunities. We don’t discriminate because someone is the parent, the eldest or youngest child. Or because someone is a stepchild. Or because one is male or female. All family members, just like at work, should have equal opportunities to progress and equal access to all the perks and rewards on offer.
How do you know if you’re doing it right? Well, if an employee is happy at work, they’ll recommend their company to a friend. That’s a sign that the company is doing something right.
Translated to family life, if your kid wants to have friends over, that’s an indication that the family and household is doing something right.
There are many ways to improve culture, but it takes everyone being on board. Have a family meeting and set up your home the way you’d want your workplace to run, and you’ll start seeing a happier dynamic.
Helping you on your path from Chaos to Calm,