If you employ people, the reality is that employees will come and go. It is extremely rare that someone will take the entire business journey with you (or that you should want them to). A good company still experiences 10-15% turnover each year. One of my old bosses once told me that “The only certainty he had was that he was there at the beginning and would be there until he sells out or hands off the reigns to someone. More than likely, just about everyone else will come and go at some point. All you can do is strive to maximize the mutual benefit of the employer-employee relationship while they are here. You want to create an environment where good people want to stay, but accept the fact they will eventually leave, often for reasons beyond your control.” At the time I thought this was a bit cynical, but I see his wisdom more clearly many years later (Note: I left).
What made American industry great was that we had a solid albeit often informal contract between employer and employee. If you show up, put in your dues and do a good job, we will take care of you economically and provide a sense of security around your professional and personal well being. Hang in there and stay the course and there will be opportunities for advancement. We will also create a safety net to catch you when you fall and/or have to deal with challenging life issues. The overarching theme being that we are all in this together and should make the best of it. It is also why we created the largest middle class ever known to mankind and put great distance between ourselves and other economies in the world.
Whenever I hear a business owner tell me his employees are like family I wince and get a bit nervous for him/her. No matter how much you may care for your employees they are not family members. Unless, of course, technically they are which creates its own set of issues.