"We're like a family here” - is this a red flag?

August 2022


min read

There’s been a tweet knocking about for a while now that reads “If an employer ever says "We're like a family here" what they mean is they're going to ruin you psychologically.”

I personally think that’s a little harsh but I thought I’d ask my network what they thought of it when companies describe themselves in this way. It seems that a lot of people are cautious when it comes to this seemingly innocuous little sentence that creeps into job ads.

Perhaps the company really is like a family! That’s lovely. Some people might translate this as: this workplace is compassionate. Everyone gets along and we all look out for each other.

But if businesses use it in their copy to attract new people, it might put some off immediately. Because what does ‘we're like a family’ even mean? Some think it means nepotism and unfair expectations. Some are concerned it means forced loyalty with blurred boundaries. The recurring word that came up in response to this was “toxic”. Makes me think I’ve got off lightly with my own family…

But seriously, this sentence is lazy copywriting. Companies need to think about what they’re trying to say here. Does it mean the vibe is fluffy and tight knit? Or is it literally a family-run business? Regardless of whether your business embodies the positive traits of being described as a family, there are better ways to say a company is built on trust, respect, and good values.

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