No one wants to be taken advantage of, and most of us would say something or walk away from a situation if we felt that we were being mistreated. However, the situation becomes more difficult when it comes to the workplace. If you have been feeling like your boss is taking advantage of you, you are probably at least a little scared to say something.
It’s a boss’s job to delegate work, so understanding and recognizing when your boss is going too far can be difficult. However, there are certain situations in which your boss probably really is taking advantage of you. Your boss may be doing so because he or she knows that you need the job and won’t fight back, or your boss simply doesn’t realize how much you are being held responsible for. Here are five signs your boss might be taking advantage of you.
1. You are consistently expected to work extended hours
If you are an hourly employee, and you are working extra hours but not being compensated for them, then it’s easy to tell that your boss is taking advantage of you. However, the ability to discern what is fair when you are a salaried employee is more difficult. You will be expected to work longer hours sometimes, especially when your department or team is working on a very important project.
But if you are consistently being required to work many more hours than you traditionally have with no extra pay, your boss might be taking advantage of you. Many employees also bring work home, but again, if you are constantly working, then you need to consider what to do next.
2. You’re doing two or more jobs
Job duties and requirements change, so you can’t expect that your job will only entail the duties listed when you originally applied. However, if your company recently laid off another employee (or someone else left), and you are now responsible for doing your job plus theirs, there is a good chance that your boss or the company are taking advantage of you. If your boss believe that you will consistently do someone else’s work (with no end in sight), they have little reason to hire anyone new, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. According to Jeff Haden, in a piece for LinkedIn, employers also shouldn’t ask you to do something that was first assigned to another employee. Even if that employee slacked off, it shouldn’t be your responsibility. Your boss also shouldn’t send you on personal errands that they should be doing.
If you feel like you have more work than you can handle, you can try some tips from Idealist about talking to your boss. Make sure that you have specific examples, and that you avoid approaching the issue from an emotional standpoint (instead, try explaining that the quality of your work is being affected because you have so much work.)
3. Your boss expects you to be friends with co-workers
While it’s important to get along with your co-workers, and be able to work together on projects, there is no need for you to be chummy with your co-workers or your boss. If your boss puts too much pressure on you and your co-workers to get close, that is one clear sign that your boss is putting too much emphasis on friendship. If your boss also brings up conversations that are not appropriate for work, and tries to get you and your co-workers to bond over personal stories or information, that can also be a sign that a line is being crossed. Your boss might mean well, but it really isn’t part of your job requirements to be friends with your co-workers.
Bosses should also never try to force employees to attend social events outside of work. Holiday parties, dinners, and work events, are supposed to be fun, but they shouldn’t be required (or even strongly suggested).
4. You’re never appreciated
Some bosses offer more verbal praise than others, and that’s completely understandable. However, if your boss constantly lays on the work, and never gives you any positive feedback, this can still be a way for your boss to take advantage of you. If your boss isn’t pleased with anything you’re doing, you probably wouldn’t have a job, so you know that you must be at least doing some parts of your job right. A boss doesn’t have to say much to show appreciation, and never saying anything, or being very critical all the time, affects employee morale. Everyone wants to be appreciated, and even though you get a pay check, it isn’t right for your boss to never show you any approbation. You don’t need to be thanked for everything you do, but some respect for your hard work is necessary.
5. Your boss doesn’t follow through
From planning to meet with you to discuss your pay, to failing to update you on important information about a new client or project, to ignoring your requests for time off or other requests, there are many ways that bosses don’t come through. Bosses are human, so sometimes they will mess up just like the rest of us. However, if your boss consistently promises something, but never delivers, you are definitely being taken advantage of, even if it isn’t deliberate. The stakes can be even higher if your boss offers you a promotion, a raise, or other rewards, and never follows through. You also might notice that your boss picks favorites, and that certain employees receive incentives that you never get.
There are many other ways that your boss can take advantage of you, and some of them are very serious. If your boss penalizes you in some way because you are single, married, have a certain sexual preference, are a specific race or sex, or any other discriminatory practice, you need to talk to human resources or seek outside help.