Family Matters - American Society of Employers - Mary E. Corrado

Family Matters

Recently a CEO’s post on LinkedIn stirred up a bit of controversary over calling one’s work a family. The post by Daniel Abrahams read, “Stop calling your company a ‘family.’ Parents don’t fire their children for poor performance or lay them off to cut household costs when they’re struggling to put food on the table.”

He went on to say, ““Focus on being a team, built on trust and respect, where every person feels valued. Ultimately, your company isn't defined by your words, but by your actions.”

I was taken back initially by this post, because I am guilty of calling ASE a family amongst our employees. We joke that at times we are a dysfunctional family. We are a small staff, and many of us have been here 20-30 years! I do feel that you start to become a family of sort.  I have spent a lot of time with my colleagues and care about them as people and friends….and well….family.

But Abrahams makes a valid point, that not everyone feels this way.  And after all, it is a business. So, is it bad to call ourselves a family?

Here is what some LinkedIn readers commented:

“Thanks for sharing. As one of my mentors always tells me. Your job is just your place of work. Go in work hard and get paid. People don’t need to love you; they only need to know you are excellent at your job. I strive to be excellent every day."

"You are just a number in the system."

"Just because you have not had a company who cared for you beyond the work that you do, don't dismiss those who do treat their employees well. Family isn't just blood. We have friends who stood for us when even our family don't. And some of them could be your colleague or even your boss. I had a boss who believed in me, more than my mother did. I have had good work experience where we as a team, support each other, and catch each other’s back."

“Remember when dressing for the job you want instead of the job you have was a big thing? I think it should be the same way when it comes to working at a company. Build trust, make friends, enjoy what you do, and hopefully end up with as much of a family as possible. We spend more time at work than we do with our REAL Family out in the Oilfield so why not have a work family. I promise you, I’ve made some life-long Brothers out here.”

“I understand the point you're making but I must disagree. I found the term ‘Family’ appropriate. The people I worked with were more than just co-workers. After we got all the work done we hung out together. Some got married. They supported me when I had to take care of my immediate family. They came to the wakes and I went to theirs. We shared the family victories and pains that all people go through. And even though some treated me poorly, most treated me wonderfully.”

“When your employers call you "a family", that is an immediate red flag.”

“If you’ve ever had a compassionate leader, one that celebrates with you (not just at work but for personal life too) and one that supports you in times or sorrow or grief, you’ll know what people mean by ‘family’ in the workplace. It takes a very genuine and caring leader to truly build a family. It’s not the company itself that creates the family environment, it’s the people that do.”

As you can see, the feelings on this matter vary greatly. I tend to agree the most with the last comment above.  I think a good culture requires good people, and good people care about others. When I think of my work “family” this is what I’m thinking of.  But reading these viewpoints makes me realize that we should be careful using the term “family” when talking about work.

What do you think? Let me know at [email protected].

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