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Tuesday, August 16, 2022

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Job interviews: Is being told 'the team is like a family' a red flag?

Younger generations (Gen Z and millennials) are more wary of the terms used to describe the workplace. Picture: File

Younger generations (Gen Z and millennials) are more wary of the terms used to describe the workplace. Picture: File

Published Jun 30, 2022


Many companies proudly announce that their organisation is run like a ‘big family’, and when businesses describe themselves this way, they tend to mean well.

What they are trying to communicate is that they have an environment that facilitates trust, a sense of belonging, and loyalty among employees and senior staff.

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However, Gen Z and millennials do not see it this way. One Twitter user says: “It is a red flag because there's none of the warmth you'd expect from a family. There are constant interpersonal issues and unreasonable demands. You'll also be looked down upon in meetings for not working hard enough.”

Here is why this type of work structure may not be favourable for younger generations:


This is a system under which an authority undertakes to supply needs or regulate conduct of those under its control in matters affecting them as individuals, as well as in their relations to authority and to each other.

Under paternalistic leadership, supervisors often chastise or punish employees in unconventional ways like parents sometimes do.

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The employees’ motivation can become dependent on management and suffer if superiors do not approve.


Some parents are known to have favourites among their children, and this results in excessive, unhealthy competition, fights, and sabotage.

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An aspect of work for employees is the sense of having to prove yourself to your boss. Couple this with certain colleagues being seen as never doing any wrong, and you have a recipe for disaster.


Toxic workplaces are very common. They are a breeding ground for feuds, gossip, and overall hostility similar to dysfunctional families.

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So, while companies may not have set out to manipulate and control employees through the ‘we are a big family’ nomenclature, this is how it is seen today. Perhaps it is time to evolve with the times.