Picture this: The CEO of a small company is out for dinner with his team to celebrate a company victory. They were working tirelessly and overtime for the last few weeks to meet the deadline for the launch of their app.
Before they begin eating, the CEO raises a toast. He thanks them for their hard work and tells them not only will they be paid for the overtime but he will also reward them well at the year-end bonus.
He then asks them to raise their glasses and shout their company slogan, which I found extremely fascinating.
Everyone clinks their glasses and digs in to enjoy the feast. Are they happy? Of course. But they are not grateful.
They are simply happy because they have achieved what they were working towards and they don’t have any reason to be resentful or distressed because their efforts have just been acknowledged in both ways that matter – appreciation and monetary compensation. But that isn’t reason for gratitude. That’s something expected.
What most companies miss
I think this is not something most companies (startups/agencies) understand. I get it, you’re trying to earn the most profits but haven’t we been learning in theory (and in practice) that employees are what breathe life into a company?
A smart, diligent person has no issues working hard or overtime or doing whatever they have to in order to meet deadlines and company goals. But it’s the base of every capitalistic endeavour right? Quid pro quo.
Quid pro quo
We are not family. You want me to work significantly beyond what you pay me for and what we negotiated during the hiring process? Then firstly, don’t be entitled.
Most times, I, and many others, are okay with going that extra mile or two. In fact, we do it anyway – without being asked. That’s because we care about what we are doing and we have a good work ethic.
But if they want us to go 10 to 20 miles extra, they need to start with a conversation and not entitlement. An employee is not a slave. Seems obvious enough but in actions, many managers and bosses skip that sentiment entirely.
Why it is a red flag
‘We are like a family’ can be a red flag if the company places too much emphasis on it because it’s typically a one-sided thing. This narrative can expect unconditional loyalty out of employees and their tolerance when boundaries are violated. However, when it’s time for the management to back the employee, they may suddenly get cold, factual and nonchalant.
But that’s okay, right? I don’t expect the place I work at to be a family. I don’t think most people do. We just want a healthy work environment and fair treatment. Being friendly and warm is amazing too. But saying we are like a family is unnecessary and often a disadvantage for the employees.
Story time: Personal experience
Without name-dropping, I want to share that I have worked with certain people who had double standards. If I was sick and called in for a sick leave, they would mock me the next day and say that they don’t understand this attitude. That they work even when they are sick.
Do you really? Well then that’s because you earn profits. Give me a profit sharing stake and then expect the same out of me! But on that note, I am not a deranged human being. I would rest when I am sick even if it was my own company.
But you know what’s funny? It was these very same people who expected me to empathize with them and work extra because of their personal issues when they did not once even entertain mine.
Do I sound too idealistic?
I may sound like an idealistic cryptid gen z-millennial who doesn’t understand how work works? But I do. That’s why I never voiced these opinions before. Because, of course, you have to play the fool in terms of not knowing or demanding your rights for the first few years as a fresher.
But what I have realized after working with different companies and people is that it may be rare to find a work culture and top management who treats you in a humane manner but it’s surely not a myth. The key is to not get too jaded by bad experiences and look out for places that understand and action the sentiments of healthy teams.
The scene I opened this blog post with is a scene from the K-drama ‘Because This Is My First Life’. But I’ve also seen such company values in real life.