7 Signs You're Being Taken Advantage of at Work (Plus Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

October 26, 2021

A healthy work environment is critical for personal and professional satisfaction. Being taken advantage of at work can result in frustration and low morale, and hinder professional development. Understanding the signs will help you put a stop to unfair working conditions before they become problematic. In this article, we will talk about the top seven signs you're being taken advantage of at work and tips to improve your work environment.

7 signs you're being taken advantage of at work

It's important to monitor whether you're being taken advantage of at work. If the following situations seem familiar, consider taking action to protect your career:

1. You find yourself making excuses for your supervisor or colleague

Finding yourself constantly making excuses for someone else may mean that you're afraid to speak up and say no. For example, if your colleague is continuously late for key meetings or your supervisor regularly asks you to stay late to finish the project, you may find yourself making excuses for them. Both of these examples are signs that someone is taking advantage of you, and it may be a good idea to speak up to protect your career.

2. You do not have a voice in the decision-making process

When you work with people who keep things to themselves, it may make you feel excluded. You may ask questions like, "Does my supervisor trust me?", "Do they think that I'm competent enough to handle the information?" If you are guessing, it can be hard to trust them or feel comfortable sharing your thoughts and opinions.

If you find that your workplace does not value your opinion or your team decides without consulting you, reevaluate your working relationship. This can be a sign that you're not being respected or valued within the organization which may lead to stagnation in your career.

3. You do not have an opportunity to gain new skills or move up

When you are working in a role that does not allow you to grow, it can be frustrating. You might feel that your organization is not recognizing your work experience, or you're missing out on opportunities to move up. For instance, you might feel you're unable to attend in-house training courses because of the workload. If you find this happening in your workplace, it might be time to reevaluate how you contribute and start pushing for change. It may be beneficial to discuss your concerns with someone in a leadership position and discuss ways to utilize your skills and talents better.

Related: 5 Personal Development Tips to Progress Your Career

4. You're unhappy with your work-life balance

A work-life balance is critical for your mental and emotional health. If your work is taking a toll on your personal life, it can be hard to feel like you're in a good place. For example, when someone is always taking on tasks and projects to avoid disappointing their supervisor, it can result in burnout and stress. When you're unhappy with your work-life balance, this may be a sign that you need to set some boundaries. Boundaries such as not checking email after work hours, refusing to work on weekends, and taking vacations can help you achieve a healthy work-life balance.

Related: A Helpful Guide to Having a Great Work Life Balance

5. You're not receiving fair compensation

Receiving fair compensation for your work is crucial. If you find that your salary is lower than others doing the same type of work in your field, it may be time to take a step back.

For example, if you have been doing great work for several years but are still earning less than what others with similar credentials are making, this may be a sign that you're not being paid fairly for your work. If this is the case, it may be time to discuss your contributions and ask for what you deserve. You can also compare your salary with others in related fields to better understand how your work measures against the competition.

Related: How to Negotiate a Raise at Work

6. Your supervisor takes credit for all the good ideas

If you have been brainstorming ways to improve your workplace, but your supervisor or colleague gets credit for it, this may signify that your workplace is not valuing you for your contributions. For example, if you come up with some great ways to save money for the company and your team doesn't recognize your efforts, take a step back and consider how you want to handle the situation.

If this is a good idea, it may be time to talk with your manager about giving credit for where it's due. You can also have conversations with them about how keeping things from employees affects morale and teamwork, as these are critical elements for any strong organization. An open discussion can help improve workplace dynamics.

7. Your supervisor puts you down in front of others

If you find yourself criticized and humiliated by your supervisor in front of others, it might be time to make some changes at work. When your opinions don't feel valued, or you feel you can't express yourself without fear of what may happen next, this is a sign that your work environment may need to change.

Never feel you have to put on a false persona to avoid being criticized by your supervisor. It may be beneficial to have an open conversation with your supervisor about the problems you face and how things can change for the better. A discussion can help highlight problem areas and provide a plan of action for how to improve things.

Tips to improve your working environment

If you can relate to one or more signs that it's time to change your work environment, consider the following tips. Here are some things you can do to make a difference in your work life:

Share what's bothering you

Open a dialogue about what you are experiencing at work so your supervisor knows what needs to change. You can open this conversation by mentioning that you have noticed some issues in the workplace and how you want to address them. Then talk about how everyone can benefit from having a more open dialogue at work so that the company can do its best work.

Set some boundaries

Setting boundaries with your work and your supervisor can help you feel more in control of what's happening. You can set boundaries by, for example, declining to answer your phone after work hours or setting aside some time just for yourself. These boundaries can help you relax and enjoy your personal life so that when you come back to work, you can focus and increase productivity.

Explore other opportunities

When you are unhappy with your career path, it may be time to spend some time on your resume and start looking for new job opportunities. You may find a job that suits you better and pays more if you look in the right places. In any case, starting your search can help give you a little boost of confidence, knowing that perhaps there is something else out there for you.

Build your confidence

If your confidence is down, it can affect how you handle workplace issues. If this is happening to you, it may help to try some new tactics to boost your self-esteem. For example, you can start putting more effort into how you dress and try walking confidently. You can also take up activities outside work or engage in a hobby to improve your overall wellbeing. These small changes may help you feel like you're more in control of your career path and day-to-day work.

Learn to deal with conflict

There are healthy ways to resolve conflict if you learn how to approach it the right way. For example, when conflict with your supervisor arises, try to remain calm and listen to what they say before responding. With some open communication about the problem, you may find that things aren't as bad as they seem.

Improve your interpersonal skills

Don't pressurize yourself to be the perfect employee, but there are some simple ways you can improve how well you get along with others. For example, show up on time for meetings and avoid monopolizing conversations. Being more aware of these issues can make you seem more confident in your abilities.

Learn how to say no

Sometimes it may be beneficial to decline extra tasks or set some boundaries for yourself. For example, let your supervisor know that you would like to utilize your time effectively and focus on your most important projects. Try not to be too discouraging when saying no, but make it clear why you need time for yourself.