“We’re One Big Family”

29 Jan

We used to live in a neighborhood that was, in a word, special. The kids in the hood grew up together, walked in and out of each home on the street like it was their own– relationships that have stood the test of time and distance. We used to throw our money together and have the biggest Fourth of July fireworks blowout in the county. We were neighbors. We were friends. We were, in a word, family.

I’m taking you down this memory lane trip because that feeling– family– is an element of highly engaged workplaces. When we study the survey comments at highly engaged companies that theme– “we’re one big family”– emerges frequently. At poorly engaged companies– “family”– and the neighborly, positive sense that goes with it, is absent. Coincidence? I think not.

Although many of us didn’t have the best “family” experience growing up, we can certainly hope for the best of what family can mean– care, trust, acceptance. This is exactly what employees at great workplaces are talking about! We didn’t tell them to say “this place feels like family”– they chose those words to describe what their work experience feels like. Importantly, it’s that feeling that fuels engagement, which we know leads to more productivity, employee retention and customer loyalty.


  • Do our employees feel this way about our workplace?
  • If they don’t, what’s getting in the way from them doing so?
  • Given the current economic crisis, what can we do right now to start building that sense of family, knowing it can help get us through the difficult times ahead?

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