Ten Signs of an Abusive Employer
Many corporations have made changes to their operations to survive the current economic downturn. They have asked their employees to make some sacrifices to help them stay in business such as cutting work hours and suspending raises and furloughs. Some employers, however, have always viewed their employees as a necessary evil. These employers are using the recession to squeeze workers to produce more in less time for less pay. They create difficult working conditions that put employees at unhealthy stress levels. If you work for a company like this, you may want to start looking for another job. If you are looking for a job, it is a good idea to identify abusive companies and avoid applying for a job with them. Here are ten signs a company is an abusive employer:
1. Your employer is consistently rated poorly for customer service. Poor customer service indicates that a company's board of directors is more interested in high sales and a low bottom line than earning its customers goodwill and trust. If its customers feel the company abuses them, then the company will not hesitate to abuse its employees too.
2. Your employer routinely outsources much of its work to foreign companies. When a company relies on foreign outsourcing to provide customer service and support services for its US employees, the people who are served find it difficult to resolve their issues. The company that is willing to sacrifice good customer relations and quality support for its US employees to increase its bottom line is not an employer that can be trusted.
3. Your employer is always hiring. For the past three years, a large call center in New Mexico owned by a Fortune 500 company has had two huge banners on the outside of its building that proclaims it is "Now Hiring." The reason that the call center is always hiring is that it is always firing! Just as often, its employees get fed up with the unreasonable demands made of them and quit. This particular company has earned a reputation for being a difficult employer. Avoid employers with high turnover rates.
4. Your employer manipulates its employees to get give the company good reviews. When stock prices are down, some corporations have resorted to temporary tactics to solicit good reports from their employees on their working conditions. One company implemented an "employee retention" program. It gave its employees generous incentive bonuses, relaxed some of its more stringent job standards and policies and created some fun activities. Then, it asked its employees to fill out surveys. Once the company received national attention for being a great place to work, which boosted its stock, the employee retention program was dropped.
5. Your employer trains you to manipulate customers. You are provided with a script to read to the customer (as if you are using your own words) that creates the impression that their problem has been resolved or they are getting a great deal. You know that nothing is actually resolved or the deal was not really a deal. This is not an employer that has your best interests in mind if it trains you to fool customers.
6. Your employer is obsessed with employee fraud. Unfortunately, employee fraud is a problem but your employer has become obsessed to the point of paranoia when it starts defining fraud in ways that make little sense and then, run constant reports to catch offenders. Ask yourself if your employer is actually monitoring fraud or is hiding its own fraud.
7. Your employer does not respect your personal needs. Occasionally, everyone has to take time off for a doctor's appointment or personal business. Some companies will severely penalize employees who do not schedule time off in advance. If your employer is intolerant of even an emergency that is beyond your control, such as getting into a car accident on your way to work, then you are not being treated like a human being but a robot. Many companies do not go so far but can have terrible policies that border on human rights violations such as forbidding workers from using the restroom except on scheduled breaks.
8. Your employer demands you use personal time for work. Before you start your day, you must make coffee, sort your inbox and turn on your computer to load several programs that you will use during the day. If your employer demands that you have these tasks done before your paid time starts, your company is probably in violation of state laws and should be reported.
9. Your employer often fires senior employees with good work records for minor infractions. Unfortunately, too many corporations engage in this practice to save themselves the cost of paying higher wages and retirement benefits. Not all companies are so callous. Find a company that has a proven track record of valuing its long term employees.
10. Your employer puts out a long list of "don't" and "will" rules. Your company is managing in a decidedly negative method when it gives you a long list of "Don't do this? or you will be fired on the spot." Managing employees by intimidation is one of the most abusive moves a company can make. Not only does this company not value its employees, it is probably in some kind of trouble that has yet to become public. Don't waste any time. Find another job even if you have to take a reduction in pay.
A career change can be liberating. However, it can also be expensive once you factor in a potentially lower income and the cost of going back to school. Yet not all career changes have to involve classes.
Check out our career change guide to learn if a career change is right for you.