How to keep workplace stress at bay in a family owned business

How to keep workplace stress at bay in a family owned business safety Forward

As we all know, work can be stressful at the best of times, but mixing family and business can come with a whole heap of additional issues whilst at the same time, also bring joy and fun to a business environment. Some of you may be shuddering at the thought of working in close proximity to family, others will relish the chance to progress a family run business. Either way, learning how to keep workplace stress at bay in a family owned business will be high on your list of priorities to ensure a smooth and enjoyable working day. Our latest article explores what these added stresses may be and how to overcome them.

Lack of training

Induction and training is often overlooked in a family run business. This can lead to confusion to staff, with no clear structure or plan as to what is expected of them. If and when mistakes are made, there is often nothing to refer back to, to learn and develop and prevent the same mistakes from happening again and again. Training in any role is vital to progression and should be an ongoing programme.

Inter family issues

Family members typically have insight into each other’s personality and thought process that non-related business partners wouldn’t have, which can sadly cause conflict. All family members argue, but when that escalates into the work environment then other employees often feel the brunt of this. The business has to be run in a different way that the family is run, and this may mean leaving all unresolved disputes at the door for the working day.

Reluctance to hire outside the family

One challenge is the unwillingness of family business owners to bring onboard professional managers from outside the family. At some stage, the business will grow to a point where the family members don’t have the skills or experience to manage the additional complexity, and it’s time to bring in outside expertise such as accounting, finance, or human resources. Otherwise, it will be challenging to take the business to the next level.

Informal culture and structure

For many businesses, having a laid-back culture is a positive. However, the informal structure and culture found in many family businesses can equate to a lack of documentation, policies, and defined strategy and goals. Keep in mind you still need consistency and structure for a business to work and put clear instructions in place, that family and non family members can adhere to.

Generation issues

Most family businesses are passed on through the generations, and at any given time it can comprise of several different generations working together. Naturally, this can lead to a difference in opinion about how things should be done. Older generations may be reluctant to move with the times, while younger family members can often be in a hurry to change too much, too quickly. For this to work, a compromise must be reached with different ages realising that they all bring something valuable to the table, in different ways. Older generations can bring experience and calm, younger can bring fresh ideas and enthusiasm. The two combined could make a pretty powerful combination if managed properly.

Succession planning

Many family business owners may find it difficult to decide who will be in charge of the business if they were to step down. The leader must determine objectively who can best take the business forward and aim to reduce the potential for future conflict – this can be a daunting decision but one of necessity. A plan of action and clear instruction is required from the offset.

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