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Is Your Employer Taking Advantage of You?

Is Your Employer Taking Advantage of You?

Larry Buhl | HotJobs

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.”

Do your own snooping. You need to do some sleuthing yourself, Manoske says. One great source is people who have recently left the company: “Even though someone who quit may have an axe to grind, they still can have some valuable information to share about what’s going on in the company.” Manoske adds that it’s up to you to determine what the truth is once you’ve consulted enough sources.

Ask, don’t demand. If it looks as though your company is squeezing you unnecessarily, approach your supervisor to ask for more money, better hours, a lighter workload, a promotion, or perks. But don’t demand. “The way you ask is important,” Green emphasizes. “Start the conversation with phrases like ‘It seems as if the company has really turned around and is doing well, based on our most recent quarterly results. Can you help me understand how this will affect employees as we continue to do well?’”

John O’Connor, president of Career Pro, advises against letting emotion get the better of you when you’re asking for what you think you’re due. “Don’t speak out in anger because it will never advance your career,” he explains.

Look for greener pastures. Some companies are hiring, and new hires don’t always have to accept rock-bottom wages and meager perks. If you do some salary research and learn that the compensation structure in your company really is out of whack, you have options. “Companies are asking for a lot right now, but if they don’t live up to their promises and it’s affecting your health and sanity and performance, be looking for a place that validates you,” O’Connor says.

Make sure you land a place in one of these greener pastures before quitting, advises O’Connor. “You don’t want to voluntarily un-employ yourself right now. You should make sure you have another offer waiting.”

“In the end, you have to decide if it’s worth the trade-off to stay with an employer you feel is taking advantage of you, versus moving on to a new one in tough times,” Green says.

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