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Is Your Employer Taking Advantage of You?

Is Your Employer Taking Advantage of You?

Larry Buhl | for HotJobs

Since the recession began in December 2007, more than half of all American workers have become unemployed, taken a pay cut, suffered a reduction in hours, or had to take a temporary job because they couldn’t find a full-time position, according to the Pew Research Center’s Social and Demographic Trends Project.

You probably don’t need a study to tell you the job market is still less than robust. In such an environment, you might assume that employers are taking advantage of employees—by withholding raises and promotions, loading on extra work, and even eliminating fringe benefits long after their balance sheets are healthy.

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And in some cases, you’d be right.

“Now that corporations have learned they can do with fewer workers, many are using it to their advantage, whether it is essential to their survival or not—and that trend could go on indefinitely,” says Douglas McIntyre, editor of 24/7 Wall Street.

Mike Manoske, a business development manager and recruiter for the staffing and consulting firm Yoh, believes that that up to a third of companies that are raking in gobs of money are not sharing it. He adds that such stingy behavior is usually not due to greed but rather to “nervous senior managers who are worried the economic recovery won’t last.”

“There are a lot of organizations who say, basically, ’You’re lucky to have a job now, so here’s more work,’ but nobody in management is communicating why they need to take on more work,” Manoske says.

If you suspect that your long days, flat paychecks, and stingy perks are helping make someone at your company very rich, experts offer tips on assessing the situation.

Don’t believe everything you hear or read. “The rumor mills are on hyper-drive now, and people hear and repeat only half the story, but they rarely validate it,” Manoske says. “Most of the time, it’s a lack of communication from the top and from managers that causes rumors and resentment to run wild.”

Holly G. Green, CEO and managing director of The Human Factor, agrees that it’s important to learn the full story. “The company could have gone into deep debt to keep the doors open but has now had one great quarter—a long way from full recovery but starting to do well. There are times when externally facing statements don’t really tell the whole story, so you have to be cautious about assuming too much from them.”

When in doubt, ask HR. Manoske shares a story of a colleague who was given a raise in January that wouldn’t take effect until June. It was a moot point, because the colleague was laid off in May. “What he should have done is reached out to someone in human resources in February and asked, ‘Where are we?’”

That’s not to say that HR will always share information, or that they even know. But it’s still important to ask, Manoske says. “If HR doesn’t know the answer, they will almost always ask upper management, and if upper management receives enough queries, they’ll be forced to better communicate and explain the company’s method of compensating employees.”

Next: Do Your Own Snooping >>