We’ve come a long way in the realm of employee rights. Recently, we’ve specifically focused our efforts toward ensuring that women are receiving fair and equal treatment in the workplace. We know the major, obvious signs of mistreatment to look out for and how to report them. Yet, for all our knowledge, we may be missing some of the more subtle, nuanced moves that signal disrespect.
One of the reasons many of these slip below the radar? Most of us don’t know precisely what we’re entitled to at work. As such, we’re often unaware that we’re receiving less than we’re due, and that doesn’t just apply to compensation. In a world where more than half of employees don’t feel respected by their bosses, we can’t afford to slip anything under the rug. Here are five signs of disrespect to look out for.
1. Your boss isn’t cultivating your growth.
As an employee, you are part of your organization’s most important asset — its workforce. As such, your boss should be investing in your professional capacity. This might include sending you to training, helping you attain advanced certificates in your trade, encouraging you to work on a high-profile project, and more. The more you learn about your craft and the more capable you become, the more everyone benefits.
A boss who demonstrates respect is one who will encourage you to explore and cultivate your talents and skills. He or she will serve as a mentor to you, help connect you with others who can help you grow, and inquire if there’s anything new you’d like to learn. You likely didn’t take the job to sit stagnant until retirement. As you seek to advance your career, your boss should be your biggest champion, cheering you along every step of the way. Anything less than that support is a sign of disrespect.
2. Your paycheck or benefits are below par.
When it comes to workplace respect, your compensation is a direct reflection of your value. While it’s true that some startups or small businesses in their infancy stages can’t afford to pay employees salaries that match industry standards, this expectation should be set at the very beginning, before you even sign on the dotted line and join the team. Otherwise, your paycheck should line up with what others in your job field and locale are making.
If your numbers are far below those standards, you could be getting taken advantage of. Unsure how to make sure you’re earning what you deserve? Ask around to friends and co-workers who are in a similar position. Or, check on websites such as Payscale.com to see a comparable salary for someone with your qualifications and job title should be making.
At the same time, you should also be receiving the full scale of benefits that your employer provides and you shouldn’t be made to feel inferior or met with a million questions when you need to take a sick day, schedule a medical procedure, or ask off for a vacation. While not all companies will offer a full benefits package and the extent of those you receive will be dependent upon whether you’re in a full-time or part-time position, you should still be receiving the company standard, and encouraged to take advantage of them without recourse.
3. You’re swamped with work.
Maybe you’ve heard this line before: “Oh, you’re just the best at what you do. Here, can you take on this assignment for me?” At first, the compliment is welcome. Who doesn’t love being told they’re the best at something. Yet, over time, as the surface of your desk becomes less visible and the stacks of paperwork keep piling up, you might begin to feel as though maybe your talent is being taken advantage of.
Similar to the leader who always gets tasked with doing the entire group project, you might be taking the brunt of the responsibility and legwork on yourself unfairly. A true compliment will be given without the expectation of getting anything in return. If you’re praised in one breath, then asked to help out in the very next, it could be a ploy to butter you up. If you’re going to take on the extra work, make sure you’re being adequately compensated before moving forward.
4. You’re not asked for your opinion.
Do you have a great idea that could help you and others do your job easier? Do you have input that could change the course of a project or other undertaking? If so, has anyone asked you? Have you been invited to important meetings that directly involve your department? If you’re getting used to watching your co-workers travel down the hall and into the conference room without you, that could signal disrespect.
Even if you don’t have a direct role in what the meeting entails, attending a relevant one can be a helpful way to learn more about your company and grow as a professional. It’s also a great way to cultivate a positive work environment, where everyone feels valued and respected. If there are important and mission-critical discussions happening all around you without anyone asking what you think, it signals that your opinion isn’t as important as your coworkers’. Your manager should be advocating for your involvement in these discussions, for your overall education and growth if nothing else.
5. Everyone assumes you’re a mind reader.
“OK. You’ve got it right? Great! Come to me with any questions.” Except when you actually do come to your boss with questions, you’re met with a brushoff, a vague response and zero actual help. If you’re consistently being asked to take on complex assignments without thorough instructions or the tools to complete them, that’s a sign of disrespect.
At first, you might take it as a compliment that your boss thinks you’re capable of figuring things out on your own. Yet, part of being a solid team player and a professional is knowing how to work with others and ask for assistance when required.
No one is an island, and if you’re being treated as one, that’s not a healthy workplace environment to be in. Your boss should take the time to explain every project to you and field any and all questions you might have before leaving you to it. You should also be given everything you need to turn it in successfully. From rulers and scissors to advanced computer software, those tools will vary by industry, but you should have direct access to them nonetheless.
Advocating for the Worker Respect You Deserve
All employees should have the right to come to work and feel valued and respected. If you’re going to dedicate a good portion of your day and your life to a job, the least your team can offer you is a hearty dose of dignity and esteem. If any of these above five scenarios apply to you, it might be time to take your case to HR or at least speak to a trusted confidant about the issue. Speaking up is the first step toward achieving the consideration you deserve, so don’t be afraid to make your voice heard.