As a fresh grad out of school, I thought that my workplace would be like my extended family. When new peolpe join our team, we say, “Welcome to Company XYZ family.” I had visions, as a fresh grad, of finding a great company to work for, laughing with my co-workers while working late to meet deadlines, and staying with the company for a long time.
In my 4 years working in the real world, I’ve learned a few things that I’d like to share. My once wide eyed naive self is a little more wise, and sadly, a little more jaded. I’ve seen former co-workers let go and new co-workers take their place. I’ve seen people stay with the company for 25+ years and I’ve seen some people who move on within a year or two.
Co-workers are Important… but not family.
My family is my mom, dad and my 2 sisters. My parents love me and my sisters unconditionally, they always want the best for me and my sisters, even if it means sacrificing things for themselves. My sisters and I are always honest with one another – even if it means saying things one may not want to hear. We look out for one another, and support one another – both morally, and at times, financially.
Does this kind of support and relationship sound like something I would expect at a workplace? Of course not. That would be unrealistic.
My co-workers are people who I work with – day in and day out. It is important that we get along, and that we work together on a united front on our projects, but I would never expect them to put my needs before the theirs or the company’s.
The Workplace is a Business
It’s important to remember why we are at our workplace in the first place.
To state the obvious… We have been hired to fulfill a certain role, complete a certain job or tasks, and we are being compensated for our time and effort in the form of a salary/bonus/shares, etc. Generally, we are compensated because we bring some value to the team, which can cover our own salary, and then some (i.e., benefits, sick leave, vacation, other people’s salary).
At the end of the day, in order for the company to stay in business, it must be generating more money than it is paying out. So, as an employee, you must be bringing in more revenue that your company is paying you. Makes sense, right?
But what about the “family” part?
Good for Morale
I think that when a company promotes their “Company XYZ Family”, it is mostly good for morale. People like feeling that they belong somewhere, and they like to know that they are taken care of and supported by (similar to how we are with our own families). It makes us feel good.
When people feel good, they usually have more incentive to work harder, thus generating more income for the company. This can be a win-win situation, until there is an imbalance in the system.
Perhaps, there is no work coming in, or perhaps John Doe isn’t able to bring in as much business as he once did. Whatever it may be, the revenue John was bringing may no longer be sufficient.
So what happens now?
Business is Business
Although, I haven’t experienced it, yet (“knocks on wood”), I have had co-workers and friends, describe to me how they were let go. Suffice to say, it was all business. In fact, some weren’t even given a reason – just told that it was their last day, and they could either pack their things that day, or come back another day, after hours, escorted.
At the end of the day, the company needs to look out for their shareholders’ best interest.
Co-workers, bosses, and executives are a very important part of the work environment, but I still feel that the “family” card is played only when it is in favour of what works out best for the company. I often time see employees bend over backwards for a company. However, if the tables were turned, it’s less likely that a company would bend over backwards to help out one of their employees (nor is it usually expected).
Readers, what are your thoughts on work “family”? Do you think the term “family” is being used for mural, or do you think companies really mean it? Perhaps, I might be a little jaded in my perspective.