Why Work is Not Family

We are conscious to not refer to ourselves as family at Myriad. A culture of “work is family” adds to the power imbalance of the workplace. With clearly defined boundaries with work and colleagues, we are able to more fully participate in other spheres as well as have healthy conflict within the working environment.

Have you ever been told “we’re really a family here” in a work environment?While your company may have been trying to communicate a culture of care...

that phrase could also be a red flag.

At Myriad, we are conscious to not refer to ourselves as family. A culture of “work is family” adds a level of emotional responsibility for employees that contributes to the power imbalance of the workplace.

Whether healthy or not, language regarding family often elicits an emotional response, the expectation to be present, caring and support no matter the circumstances, and a promise of commitment forever. This language creates an emotional responsibility for employees well beyond the transactional role they’ve accepted.

“If I am being asked to show up at work like I would for my family or if I ask my work to take the place of my family, I would disappoint or be disappointed by either scenario.” Jessica Strauss

Does this mean that we don’t care about Myriad and our coworkers? Absolutely not! What it does mean is that we understand that day to day, we shouldn’t expect individuals to sacrifice their personal wellbeing to solve structural problems.

When we drop the ball as a business and see holes, the response we strive for is to see where our policies, culture, and job roles need to adjust to better handle situations in the future. If we took a “it’s all in the family approach,” we might expect one another to just “pick up the slack,” missing a valuable opportunity to innovate, and risk burning out one of our own.

Emotional fulfillment cannot (and should not) exclusively come from a job.

The complexity of relationships an individual needs cannot be fulfilled by only one environment. We exist in a multitude of communities that need our time, expertise, care, and whatever special skills each of us have to bring to the table for that particular place. 

Investing all of our energy into caring about a work community would take away personal resources for connecting and finding meaning within other spheres: family, friends, local and, global community. 

“Of course, there's still room for meaningful connection with my teammates and for them to know me on a personal level. However, my work doesn't need to solve for the nurturing that I need from family nor would it be healthy for me to provide nurture in a work setting.” - Jessica Strauss

We value the relationships that each of us have outside of Myriad. Approaching work with a macro context influenced by all of the aspects that make us whole allows us to professionally develop new and different perspectives that directs the ways in which we innovate. Grounding our identities in a multitude of sources and not solely the success of the business equips us to weather storms of all seasons of life. 

“While I love the work we do, if I don’t have this job tomorrow, I will not lose all sense of myself. Because of this, I get to make clear decisions, take risks and innovate, and create without fear.” - Ash Gerlach

We’ve witnessed that our solid foundation of trust at Myriad is built on the reality that our relationships are clear and have boundaries. We trust that everyone on the team has the business's best interest at heart and is caring for their own wellness. 

These professional guardrails permit us to have healthy conflict without fear! We don’t have to worry about additional subtext when brainsailing*; our baseline is that we want to see Myriad succeed and that our encouraged conflict isn’t a reflection of personal disdain but of an exciting opportunity to embrace and approach work challenges.


*Brainsailing is brainstorming, but with whimsy. Does it mean anything different? No. Does it make us smile? Yes.

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