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Never Family

No company, organization, or group is ever family. Remember this, and never forget it.

I have been in the computer field for over twenty years at this point. I have worked in the public sector, in retail, at tech companies, and at telecom companies over my career. Some companies were better than others (I have few to no bad things to say at the moment about the company I work for), but they all, to a one, worked under the delusion that they were somehow family and would take care of each other.

At some companies this is truer than others, but it is never true, and never believe anyone who tells you that lie.

It is untrue because any organization that can separate itself from you with little to no notice is not family.

Do not misunderstand what a company or group exists for. A for profit company exists to make money for its shareholders, and a not for profit company exists in order to do whatever its charter says it’s supposed to do. Employees, vendors, etc., exist solely to provide them the resources necessary to make their goals come to fruition. While it’s true that the good companies recognize that taking care of their employees can yield many strong benefits that help them ultimately towards that goal, and it’s also true that the bad companies see their employees as expendable resources, at the end of the day, the employees mean exactly the same thing to said companies. They are resources, and they are expendable.

And anyone who says you are family when you are not is not only lying to you, they are terribly lying to you.

There are many things that a company could say that is not a lie. They could tell you that you are a valued part of the company, and if you take care of them, they will take care of you. That’s entirely reasonable, and it could even be true. They could tell you that they will do what they have to in order to keep their company healthy, and if that means giving you a few perks to bribe your loyalty, they’ll do that. I’m not sure I’d work at such a company, but I’d admire their honesty. They can tell you a whole bunch of stuff that is not lies, that accurately represents your relationship with the company, and gives you a realistic idea of how they intend on treating you. And don’t get me wrong – that may even be well! As I said, the company I work for treats their employees far better than I have any right to expect, and for context, it is not a small company and is a household name in my country.

But they’re not family. They will never be family. And I do not appreciate the lies.

Let’s be clear, though – unions are not family either. You may think that a union exists to take care of you, as an employee, and look out for your interest. They don’t. They exist solely to be an opponent to management. As much as your interest and the union’s interest may coincide, at the end of the day, they are an organization much like the company they have a contract with. And they can also hang you out to dry if they choose.

I’m not intending, with this post, to paint an overly pessimistic picture of today’s corporate environment. Some companies are bad, and some are good. I worked for a company at Los Angeles about ten years ago for about three years – and the biggest regret I have is that I stuck around that long. I didn’t realize at the time that I had choices, and it really did traumatize me. They thought that offering free lunches made them a good place to work. Spoiler: It was a nice perk, but they didn’t. The company I work for now, as I mentioned, I have nothing but good things to say about at the moment.

But please note the “at the moment”, it’s the most important thing. That could change, and it could easily change. They treat me well, and I’m doing better financially than I ever have thanks at least partly to them, but at the end of the day, they are not family, and I feel sorry for those who think they are.

Family will not treat you badly, family will not abandon you, family will not care if you’re unable to produce, family will care for you without preconditions or conditions. Family does not have to worry about getting fired, family does not have to worry about getting screwed, family does not have to watch their back. Family is the antithesis of joining any company or organization.

Be clear about what you are, corporations, and be clear about what I am in relation to you. I have absolutely no problem with joining a company on a transactional basis. I give you work, you give me money, and maybe other perks besides if we agree on that. I have absolutely no problem with the idea that we can cut each other loose at a moment’s notice, as that is the arrangement we agreed to.

But don’t blow smoke up my ass. You are not family, and neither am I, and don’t insult my intelligence by pretending otherwise.

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