In an ideal work environment, you would feel like a part of a functional team, who strives to reach a common goal, and can fall back on each other when times are tough. The reality is that you might end up working with someone who expects you to do more than your fair share of work, is overly critical, and/or takes the credit that you deserve.
It is an unfortunate situation and one that can make you miserable. Fearing conflict, negative attention or even termination can keep you from addressing the fact that you are being taken advantage of. Below are various situations that you should not be expected to tolerate in the workplace:
- Being verbally, emotionally, or physically disrespected by your boss, management, or colleagues
- Excessive workloads, and often working overtime
- Not having your ideas heard or respected
- Not being forgiven for your mistakes
- Frequent out-of-pocket work-related expenses without being reimbursed
- Doing work well outside of your job description
- Being paid less than you are worth
- Jumping through hoops to take sick days, paid time off (PTO), or vacation
The fact of the matter is that at one point or another, all working people will deal with one or more of the situations above. Maybe you feel as though it is in your career’s best interest to “grit your teeth and get through it,” but at the end of the day, nobody should have to tolerate an unhealthy workplace.
This type of toxicity often grows gradually over time, eventually becoming “normal” to you, and you may lose perspective. There is an urban myth called “The Frog in the Pot”, which says that “. . . if you put a frog in a pot of boiling water it will instantly leap out. But if you put it in a pot filled with pleasantly tepid water and gradually heat it, the frog will remain in the water until it boils to death. Allegedly, the frog is not able to detect the gradual increase in temperature until it’s too late.”
If you believe that you are being taken advantage of, don’t second guess yourself – ask yourself “Do I feel as though I will get in trouble if I refuse?” and “Do I feel like I have to constantly prove myself to succeed in this job?” If you have answered yes to either of these questions, you may be getting taken advantage of in the workplace.
To avoid becoming the “frog in the pot”, the first step in addressing the issue is to speak up! Confrontations can be scary. And the kind of person who gladly hands their work off to you is not easy to have a constructive conversation with. However, these conversations are necessary for change! If you have tried speaking up, and nothing has changed – this is a concern. Especially if your job is affecting your day-to-day mental or physical health.
If it is, then it might be time to find a new job, regardless of whether you are an early career professional, or well established in your industry. Below are a few attributes of a healthy workplace:
- Your work-life and personal-life are balanced
- Management listens to your ideas and you feel heard
- The company invests in your professional development
- The workload is divided fairly between colleagues
- You feel uplifted, and supported by your team
- The company pays you what you are worth, and provides opportunity for promotion
- Vacation time, rest and sick days are encouraged
The list above might seem too good to be true, but companies like this do exist! If you are thinking that it is time to move into a new role, one where you are not being taken advantage of, begin creating a job search plan. If you can’t afford to quit, you can conduct your job search while you are still working.
I recommend setting concrete goals about your next steps, including what roles you’d like to work in, and with what companies. Then, set up informational interviews with 2-3 professionals at each company, and learn about their values, culture, and workstyles. Websites like Glassdoor and Indeed are wonderful places to read up on real employees’ experiences at specific companies.
Once you have done your research and met with individuals working in the roles you are interested in, or at companies you’re interested in, go back and refine your target. Make sure to maintain the relationships you have developed, and actively apply to any open roles. Before you know it, you will have greater career clarity, a focus for your next steps, industry connections and be that much closer to a job with colleagues that respect you, your ideas and time.
Want to learn more about how to best prepare for a career move? Reach out to your Yorkville University Career Advisor today!
Written by Alexandra Stancato, Career Advisor, Toronto Film School