“We’re like family here.”

If you’ve been part of the workforce in the last decade, the above phrase may sound familiar to you. It’s probably one of the most overused catchlines by HR staff to entice potential talents to join their organization. After all, we want to feel welcome and know that we are part of a company that treats us like family. 

Surprisingly, the “we’re like family” work culture has gained some notoriety in recent years; many articles emphasize how unhealthy and dysfunctional this culture is. In fact, the negative connotation is causing job seekers to be wary of organizations that advocate such a culture.

In this article, we’ll dive deeper into the reasons why the culture has negative connotations and how creating a genuinely supportive environment may be a better alternative.

Reasons Why “We’re Like Family” Culture Is a Red Flag for Job Seekers

Let’s agree on one thing. The “we’re like family” concept at work is no longer attractive and is seen as a red flag for job seekers. Many critics have argued that the concept endorses unhealthy norms including being harmful and toxic for employees. But why does this concept come with a negative connotation? 

Keep reading to find out some of the reasons. 

Forces a Sense of Loyalty  

When a family member is in need or requires help from your end, you rarely think twice. But if you move this expectation to a work setting, it automatically suggests unwavering loyalty to go above and beyond to get a task done, even if it’s unreasonable.

Forced loyalty could translate to being asked to work on projects that are unrelated to your role or request you to compromise your integrity for the sake of the company’s (read: family’s) best interest. 

Erosion of Work-Life Balance  

If a family member calls you at three in the morning, most likely you will pick up the call. Well, this can also be expected of you in a “we’re like family” work culture. We’ve all heard of instances where managers send out emails at 11.30pm and expect an immediate reply.

Sadly, this practice throws your work-life balance out of the window. Having to work around the clock means that you lose the time to do other activities like enjoying your hobbies or spending time with your loved ones. 

Inability to Say No

At times saying no to family can be a tough thing to do. There’s this unspoken obligation that we must help a family member who’s in need of help. The bad news here is the same obligation is expected of you in a “we’re like family” work culture. 

If your boss asks you to complete a task (even if it’s to run personal errands), you may find it hard to say no because family members don’t turn their backs on each other. 

Implies nepotism 

Just as its name indicates, being part of a “we’re family” work culture could mean that the managers try to bring their family members into the organization. One classic example of this is when Donald Trump hired his daughter and son-in-law to fill advisory roles during his presidency. 

However, practicing nepotism is not the best for employees, especially those who are seeking growth and career progression. It will be difficult to get the opportunity to climb the ranks even if you’ve proved your capabilities. 

Six Benefits of Creating a Genuinely Supportive Environment 

As job seekers continue to stray away from the “we’re like family” concept, many are now seeking to join organizations that promote a vibrant, caring, and supportive environment in which they’re valued as an individual, and not just another cog in the wheel. 

However,  such an organization is a tough find since most businesses focus on profitability rather than creating a supportive environment for their staff. But, in fact, having this type of environment can make an organization more successful. 

Here are six benefits of a genuinely supportive environment and how Brighttail achieves them. 

Encourages Growth & Talent Development

Humans constantly strive to grow and improve themselves. It’s just in our nature. In fact, LinkedIn’s 2019 Workforce Learning Report revealed that 94 percent of employees said that they would stay longer in an organization if it just invested in helping them learn.

This interest in learning and development is particularly strong among younger workers where 27 percent of Gen Z and Millennials pointed out that the number one reason they’d resign a job is because they weren’t given an opportunity to learn and grow. 

Life at Brighttail: At Brighttail, our mission is to empower people and businesses to unleash their full potential. We strive to create an environment in which every individual is encouraged to grow and develop their skills. One of the ways we do this is by partnering with each employee to build a custom professional development plan (PDP) based on their 1-, 2-, and 5-year goals. This ensures that the manager and employee both know how the employee wants to grow, in which areas they need to further develop, and how the business can support their success.

Going forward, the PDP becomes a central topic in biweekly 1:1s, enabling managers to help resolve blockers, review progress, and support the employee in achieving their objectives. 

Celebrate Others

Acknowledging and celebrating team members’ work is an excellent way to create a positive culture. Your actions will show that you’re paying attention, noticing their contributions, and that you’re championing their growth. 

Life at Brighttail: To show our appreciation to our staff, Brighttail constantly encourages our people to be innovative and push their boundaries to go above and beyond. We know it takes courage to brave the unknown. So, we celebrate every accomplishment by giving shout-outs in Slack, at town halls, and in scrum meetings. 

Trust and Transparency

In the past, trust and transparency in business were a taboo concept. Companies concealed information from their staff, fearing if they knew too much, it could be damaging to the business. But, in today’s market, companies that guard the secrets to their success increasingly run the risk of getting the opposite effect, discouraging employee engagement and stifling their potential. In fact, as business orientation becomes more mobile (thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic), transparency is the new norm

Life at Brighttail: Understanding the importance of trust and transparency, we ensure that everyone at Brighttail has access to any information they need regarding the company, business, and clients. 

We strive to create a high-trust environment where people can provide open, direct feedback to management and their peers. This helps us better support each other and hold each other accountable to our shared goal of being our best. 

Prioritizes Employees

A successful business understands that prioritizing its employees will develop a solid foundation for growth. After all, a happy employee produces quality work, which translates to profitability and success over time. By creating an environment where people can thrive and excel, the business can be certain that it’s on the right road to success and profitability. 

Life at Brighttail: Call it cliché, but we strongly believe in caring for and respecting our people. Our topmost priority is to grow our people, which is why we invest a lot in team building events and activities to bring everyone together. We also practice agile marketing with our scrum teams, where everyone is given the freedom to share their thoughts, ideas, or concerns. In fact, they can be the voice of reason in their individual scrum teams, making the entire working environment supportive and positive.  

Open Communication 

When an issue arises and people don’t communicate, everything can go wrong fast. When communication is done openly, it improves productivity, teamwork, and job satisfaction for employees. In fact, a McKinsey report revealed that well-connected teams see a productivity increase of 20-25% when communication is done effectively. 

Life at Brighttail: All communication at Brighttail is done openly where everyone can gain access to different people (regardless of their job title) via Slack channels, 1:1 discussions, and weekly meetings with their scrum teams. Any concerns that a team member has are addressed immediately so tasks can be done in a quick, efficient manner. 

Getting to Know People on a Personal Level

Supporting and getting to know your colleagues as people, not just as coworkers, is crucial in an organization. We all know how enjoyable work can be if we have friends as colleagues. It not only helps us to be in a supportive environment, but it can also improve productivity and make us feel welcome, especially since a lot of us join an organization remotely.

Life at Brighttail: Here at Brighttail, plenty of social activities are arranged to get to know everyone on a personal level. Some of the past activities that we’ve done include Ping Pong + Happy Hour every Friday at 4pm (yes, work ends early on Fridays), Chinese New Year dinner, and Secret Santa gift exchange where everyone filled out a questionnaire and received gifts from their Secret Santa for almost the entire month of December!

Be Part of a Supportive Culture

Building high-performing teams hinges on the work environment that you cultivate, the culture that you create, and the relationships you build. 

We at Brighttail take pride in creating a genuinely supportive environment where we encourage our people to grow and advance their careers, advocate teamwork, and provide a system where they thrive and produce their best work.

Come join us now and be part of a supportive culture designed to help you achieve your career goals!