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Creating a Sense of Family at Work

By Jennifer Soccio, VP of HR and Risk Management, Creative Solutions in HealthCare

With all the time we spend at work, our colleagues become a part of our lives. Isn’t it great when we get along with them? By developing and nurturing healthy relationships among coworkers, you can start to build a sense of family among the staff that’ll drive engagement, productivity, and better collaborations.

There are many strategies employers and business professionals can use to create a sense of family at work, such as the following:

Choose the right leaders
It’s critical for business and HR managers to choose the right leaders. What does that person look like? There are bodies of research emphasizing the qualities that make for great leaders, with much of those studies highlighting emotional intelligence.

Laura Wilcox, director of management programs at Harvard Extension School, recently explained that, too often, managers today write-off emotional intelligence as a mediocre soft skill. However, self-awareness, empathy, and other EI characteristics can actually be stronger predictors of success than many hard skills. Additionally, the source said emotional intelligence has a powerful influence over performance, as employees tend to be more inclined to go above and beyond for someone who is empathetic.

Work hard, play hard (emphasis on the play)

At Creative Solutions in HealthCare, we understand the importance of play, and organize many voluntary-participation events to promote teambuilding and healthy work relationships. We have monthly activity luncheons, monthly wellness lunch and learn events, several walking groups, and a group that goes to the local gym to work out together.

We also have a charity program inside our office that we all participate in for a focus charity of the year. This past year we helped a local 4-H group send care packages to the military stationed overseas, and held another event that benefited the local food pantry. Last spring and summer, we planted and grew an office garden to raise our own vegetables!

Arranging social activities for your people to do together allows them to let loose and get to know each other in a more relaxed setting.

As Tech.Co revealed, research has shown that people having work friends can actually result in:

  • Enhanced productivity
  • Improved communication
  • Increased satisfaction
  • Better corporate culture
  • Less turnover

Obviously, if your staff members like each other, they’ll be more inclined to interact in the office, leading to increased engagement. Keep in mind, though, that it’s also important that they see their managers and leaders out in social settings too.

Be transparent, listen, and understand
It’s not enough to be supportive and lead when times are great. Relationships are truly defined by how both parties act when times are tough. In HR, there will always be things we can’t divulge to our people. But wherever possible, try to be as honest as you can. Create an environment where honesty is reciprocated through an open candor. When your employees come to you with an issue that may be affecting their productivity, listen and show understanding. This will go a long way in developing trust among your teams and making you better equipped to lead them. If you know where people are at – with life, work, and the rest – you’ll lead more efficiently.

Coach and develop whenever you can
In every family there is give and take – and it doesn’t always square away at the end of the day, week, or year. It’s important that you coach and develop whenever you can. Maybe there’s someone that sits nearby but isn’t actually on your team. Engage with them too. Perhaps one day they will transboard onto your team or move onto another employer and remember your organization for the important lessons they learned with you. Of course, not everyone will respond well to coaching, but you’ll learn if someone’s not interested in taking opinions or lessons from you pretty quickly – which is still critical information for you to have.

Jennifer SoccioJennifer Soccio is VP of HR and Risk Management, Creative Solutions in HealthCare. The mother of two boys and three step daughters, Jennifer manages the work family like her family. She knows that people are more comfortable when they feel at home. One thing her colleagues say she does better than any other boss? Let’s people be themselves in their jobs. Jennifer has a tendency to pull out the good traits in people. She leads and coaches others through the things they aren’t great at and has an ability to sense what those around her need,

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