Family Business

Treating employees as family


5 min




Listen to the Grossmans, a fourth generation business family in the communications sector, operating Grossman Marketing Group based in Massachusetts, USA, describe how their long term employee development policies help to empower those who work with them. When owners treat non-family members like they would treat a family member, it fosters loyalty, building a long-term relationship between employees and the family business. Employees who feel valued in a family business will be devoted to the long-term success of the business.


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Steve Grossman
I think the most important asset the family has, and the business has, are its colleagues, the human capital. That is our number one asset. So you do everything you can to preserve and protect and maintain that human capital. How do you do that? Open door policy every step of the way, it has worked for us big time over the years and has given us, I think, a group of colleagues in our business who are dedicated to the company and who have stayed a long time. And the average person in our company has been with our company well over twenty years. And I think people stay because they are empowered by their relationship with the family.

Mary Ellen Grossman
If you were to ask my colleagues here, they would say, “I am part of the family business, I am ... View More part of the family.” They all feel that way.

Ben Grossman
We try to treat our employees the way we would want to be treated, the way we would want our spouses or children to be treated in the workplace. So if they have a sickness, you know, they should take the time they need to get better and they are not going to miss a penny of salary. You know there are other companies, you get sick, that company says, “Great, we will hold your job but you are going to go on disability.” That is not how we operate here. We try to treat people like they are part of our family, even if their last name is not Grossman.

Steve Grossman
When Sheila Ryder, who is one of our most successful salespeople, came to me many years ago and said, “Steve, I am going to have to leave. I am adopting a child and the adoption agency requires me to bond with my child for six months. I am going to be away for six months and I know that would be impossible for you to handle.” I said, “why?” She said, “well, my customers…” I said, “Sheila, we will take care of your customers for six months. If you want to go and adopt a child and come back in six months and resume your role, we will take care of your customers, more than that will take care of you, because you are a valuable asset and we want to make sure that relationship is protected and preserved.” Sheila said, “you would be willing to do that?” I said, “absolutely.” Sheila is still with the company. She has been with the company for thirty years. What kind of loyalty and productivity and commitment to the family and to the business does it create when at a defining moment in a person’s life you are willing to be there for her and be her support system every step of the way?

Ben Grossman
When you treat someone with the respect that they deserve, when you treat people like you would treat a family member, it engenders loyalty. They trust you; they want to continue to work here. We have increased productivity; we have lower employee turnover, which leads to lower, you know, costs of training and onboarding. And when you have people here who have felt that, you know, the trust, have been part of our family for awhile, and even younger, newer employees, they know that we have their back. And when you know someone has your back you will go out of your way to do everything you can to, you know, to do the best job possible.

Steve Grossman
When you have a group of colleagues committed to the business and committed to the family the way these men and women are, it sends a message to the customers about how much you care. But more importantly I have, we have the most valuable asset you can have: long-term deeply committed colleagues who believe in the family because the family believes in them. If you studied biology there is that definition of a symbiotic relationship where the two parts need each other to survive. We have established symbiotic relationships between the owners of the business, the family and others.