How does having a "we are Family" mentality impact workplace culture

Written by Lizanne Dsouza-Founder Liz Lyn Careers


I often hear people in management positions say things like "We are family", " we treat everyone like family" or they may go as far as saying "we are your second family"


Let's be honest, as warm and fuzzy as that sounds, this may not actually be a positive mentality at a workplace, let me tell you why.


  1. You have a family- the first reason why this statement makes me pull back when I hear it, is mostly because I already have a family, you already have a family, and just because your relationship with your co-workers or boss is one that is warm and pleasant it doesn't mean that you go as far as calling them your families.

  2. Work-life balance- thinking of your co-workers as a family may blur the lines between family time and personal time, it's nice when we enjoy the company of our colleagues but this may make it hard to walk away from the office and shut off from work completely while spending time with your family.

  3. Guilt- If you are constantly shoved by the idea that work is like family you may feel guilty when you need to stand up for yourself or ask for a pay rise or even communicate your wish to resign and move on. You shouldn't have to feel guilty while doing any of the above, however, some employers can make this so personal that employees feel like they are unable to speak up and this is not only unhealthy but probably more of a reason why people want to get out of that situation.

  4. You cannot fire your family- Employers also need to realize that they may need to let go of an employee that isn't performing very well, and if they adopt this "we are family" mentality, it becomes difficult to make sound and rational decisions when it comes to terminating an underperforming employee.

  5. No clear rules: If you say that we are family, you must be able to back it up with family-like values like trust, integrity, and honesty. Are we always able to have these at work? you may say yes, but there are policies that go against these,

For eg. if your employee is sick for more than 3 days you may ask for a certificate from the doctor, this action is necessary by the employer but in no way indicates trust like you would have with your family.

6. Unreal expectations: Addressing co-workers or your employer as your family, may create unrealistic expectations in your head that will only leave you disappointed because your co-workers or boss all have their own agenda when it comes to career paths and business growth.

7. Overall Respect and professionalism: When you speak with your family you are not necessarily thinking of being professional or speaking in a certain way, you are more casual and may even end up offending someone, but that's ok when its family, is it ok at work? NO.


It's time we all look at the negatives and positives of a workplace environment that may have no boundaries, this can very well go downhill very quickly.


Alot of employers that say "we are a family" have unreal expectations when it comes to the employees and in turn, create a toxic and unhealthy work culture. let's see things for what they are and maintain healthy boundaries at work or at home.

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