Why a company is not a family — and how companies can bond with their employees instead - Deepstash
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A company is not a family

A company is not a family

When companies overuse the word “family,” the results are rarely positive. Indeed, Pushing for family levels of commitment can actually do damage to company culture and morale.

Calling your company a family may be a well-meaning metaphor, but it’s not useful. Most employees don’t want to be part of another family. Instead, they want to be part of a team that is bonded by a common purpose and built on trust and respect. They want to know their contributions are valuable even after they leave. They don’t want leaders who overcommit and take advantage of their loyalty. 


114 reads

Work-life boundaries get blurred

Many of the organizations that emphasize being a family end up taking actions that blur the lines between work and life for their employees. 

This was seen much more often before the pandemic when companies touted free food, dry cleaning, happy hours, and all sorts of amenities designed to make life as easy as possible — as long as people never left work.


87 reads

Committed employees can be taken advantage of

When companies or team leaders overemphasize the family metaphor, the next step is asking for a family-level commitment from employees. And this creates a lot of opportunities for leaders to take advantage of employees

One project after another gets taken on, without considering existing workloads and making it difficult for employees to say no.


82 reads

Departing employees get labeled as betrayers

If employees decide they don’t like blurry boundaries around work and life or around ethics and choose to move on — that can create a whole new issue. 

In organizations that overemphasize family, it becomes easy for leaders to label to departures as a form of betrayal.


70 reads

What’s wrong with being a team instead of a family?

The intention behind labeling a company as a family might have been positive — organizations and leaders desire a strong culture made up of employees who are bonded to each other and who push each other to new levels of performance.

But what’s wrong with just calling that a team? Strong teams deliver exactly that. And whether you’re in a company that’s abusing the family metaphor or not, here are a few actions you can take to build a stronger team.


62 reads

Redefine your purpose

One of the reasons for companies choosing the family metaphor was a poor attempt to bond together people, teams and organizations. But just saying you’re a family doesn’t build bonds.

Instead, research suggests that one of the most potent ways to bond a team is by pointing to their so-called “superordinate” goals — goals that are so big they require collaboration.


70 reads

Encourage boundaries

In a modern economy, work is never done. The only way to ensure that people stay productive in a way that’s sustainable is to make sure every employee enjoys downtime as well

More and more companies are experimenting with ways to reinforce boundaries such as forbidding email after-hours, moving to four-day workweeks or even paying people to take their vacation time.


56 reads

Celebrate departures

No matter how committed a company’s employees are, most of them will eventually move on. New opportunities present themselves, life changes happen, and so do plenty of other reasons for employees to look elsewhere. In the face of this inevitability, treating departures like betrayals doesn’t make sense.

Instead, departures ought to be celebrated. Employees who leave on good terms ought to be seen as alumni who represent the organization even in their new endeavors. Departing employees are also a powerful new source of referrals for new hires.


55 reads



Copywriter in advertising


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