According to a Paychex survey, 77 percent of people say they’ve felt taken advantage of at work. But how do you really know if you’re being walked on or if it’s nothing personal? Read on to learn some telltale signs that your workplace might be rejecting you instead of respecting you.
1. Your relationships with your coworkers aren’t give-and-take
It’s possible that you’re being taken advantage of at work if you find that your relationships with your team aren’t equal. Your coworkers show up at your desk or in your Slack inbox when they need a favor, and you oblige. But when you need someone’s help, suddenly, no one’s around or available. If you find that this is happening multiple times per week, there’s a chance that you might be in an inequitable relationship.
According to Paychex, nearly half of employees help their coworkers on a frequent basis, but only 43 percent said that their employers help them in return. Researchers contributed this to potential self-serving bias,
2. People don’t ask if you’re busy anymore
When your coworkers come up to you to ask about taking on a task without helping in return, that’s a sign that things are a bit unfair. But if they don’t ask at all, you know that you’re being taken advantage of at work. While coworkers are known to do this, managers also assign tasks without asking about your bandwidth or availability. While you will be told to occasionally take on tasks at the office, if it happens regularly, that’s a bit of a red flag.
Asking about your time also matters when people use you to vent, gossip, or relax. Officemates don’t ask if you want to chat, and perhaps you might not even have time. But someone might be using you as the office therapist, which means someone is taking advantage of you.
3. Your timelines become unrealistic
Being expected to complete something at an unrealistic rate is another hint that maybe you’re not being treated as well as you deserve. If someone tells you to take on a large project when you’re already busy, then proceeds to become frustrated when the task isn’t done by the end of the day, that’s a bad sign.
Undertaking unrealistic timelines can result in staying late at work, increased burnout, and tense relationships with coworkers or managers. It can also damage relationships between you and those you need help from to accomplish the deadline, as they’re probably unhappy with being rushed as well.
Using a project management platform like Hive is a great way to visualize your project timelines, encourage transparency across your whole team, and keep everyone in the loop on upcoming tasks. Try Hive free for 14-days to see how thousands of teams use Hive to realistically manage project timelines and improve overall team collaboration.
4. You’re being shut out of communications
Whether you’re asked to do more work or the amount of work that you’re doing is sufficient, you know you’re being taken advantage of at work when communication stops. Even when you ask about status updates, you find that coworkers are slow to respond or ignore your messages altogether. And in meetings, you’re constantly talked over or shoved to the side.
Being shut out can occur for several reasons. Your coworkers or manager might see the work you’re doing as beneath them, especially if you’re predominantly taking care of office housework, so they might not think that it’s worthwhile to communicate with you. You might also get shut out if a new team member begins to take on some of your responsibilities, and your role becomes more supportive rather than active.
5. Your time off isn’t considered
Whether you’re at home for the evening, hanging out on the weekend, on your vacation, or you’re on a break getting coffee, the Slack messages and emails come in – and you’re expected to answer. You’re being taken advantage of if all your time turns into your company’s time. It’s an especially bad environment when you find that you’re being berated for not answering messages fast enough when you’re off the clock.
Make sure that this isn’t just a bad culture fit by asking around and seeing if other people feel that their time isn’t respected. If you’re not the only one experiencing these expectations, you’ll be able to gauge that it’s about your manager or your organization rather than a personal vendetta.
6. Your team is getting too comfortable
Even if your team gets along great, and you’re the best of friends, you should watch out for feeling taken advantage of at work. Rather than teammates forcing work onto you or asking you to take on more than you’re able, this is a more subtle form of being taken advantage of that involves unintentional offenses. Slacking coworkers aren’t malicious ones, but ultimately, someone always has to pick up the slack – and that’s you.
It might be that your coworkers are chatting idly in the Slack chat while you’re concerned about incoming deadlines. While that doesn’t mean that you’re in a toxic work environment, there needs to be more honest communication about responsibilities, so you don’t feel like you’re working more than everyone else.
7. You’re getting more office work than glamour work
If you signed onto a job to innovate and now you’re just pushing paper, you could be getting taken advantage of at work. In terms of responsibilities in the workplace, “glamour work” is defined as fun, innovative tasks that change the company’s future, and “office housework” involves scheduling meetings, administrative items, and support functions. And if you’re being assigned copious amounts of office housework below your pay grade, that’s something to consider.
Oftentimes, managers will assign new employees office housework to familiarize them with the company’s workflow. So if you’re in your first few months at a job and you’re still doing basic tasks, don’t panic yet. But if you’ve proven that you can do more yet, you’re not being given more, that’s where the problem lies.