Career Advice

6 Strong Signs You’re Being Taken Advantage of at Work

feeling exhausted at work

Strong work ethics is one of the most universally praised employee qualities. You have to “go the extra mile” to advance in many fields. But then one mile turns into several, and you end up feeling that you’re no longer doing a sprint, you’re running an enduring marathon. More work just falls into your lap and you’re expected to do it. 

If that’s the case, you may be being taken advantage of at work by your colleagues and superiors. 

Am I Being Taken Advantage of at Work?

The answer is probably yes. A Paychex study found that 77% of US employees said they felt taken advantage of at work at some point by being asked to do tasks outside of their role, finishing work, being neglected by others, or handling someone’s work chores while they are on vacation. 

Among respondents, almost 50% say that their peers/colleagues are the most like to take advantage of them. The sentiment is understandable because sometimes the workload gets hectic and someone needs to act as a “catcher”. 

In terms of gender, women are slightly more likely to report their direct supervisor taking advantage of them. Men were more likely to feel taken advantage of by management, colleagues, and subordinates.

That said, it’s important to recognize that your feeling may emerge because you feel under-appreciated or under-compensated. If you have specific concerns about your treatment at work, talk to your supervisor or HR representative. 

6 Signs You’re Probably Being Taken Advantage of at Work

Every workplace can get busy and your input may be overlooked. Also, like it or not, extra work will sometimes fall in your lap, especially when other people are being laid off, rage quit, or go on leave for other reasons. 

But if you have this haunting feeling of being taken advantage of at work, you might be employed at a toxic workplace, where others are used to treating you as a doormat.  

Check out these signs to be sure.

1. Your Workload is Always Higher Compared to Other Team Members 

Whenever you open your task app, it’s choke-full of action items. People know you’re a hard worker and can go through these at no time. Or they give you those “extras” because you are “the expert or the best” in this. And yet — your salary is the same as everyone else, but you always seem to be doing long hours. 

workload multitasking

It’s natural to want to stand out in the workplace in hopes of getting promoted. But running errands for everyone else on the team or doing work no one else is willing to pick up isn’t always the best strategy for earning the said recognition. 

On the contrary, it can create a continuous precedent of when people expect you to do things for them. 

2. No One is Returning Your Favors 

So you’ve fixed a goof a colleague did before your boss noticed. Then you’ve covered for another person who needed to pop out for a family emergency. But no one appears to be offering you any favors. 

Workplace reciprocity is optional. But if it’s only you on the giving end and no one else, you’re probably being taken advantage of by the others. 

3. You Aren’t Given the Same Recognition as Others

A recent survey by Gallup found that only 26% of employees strongly agree that they are recognized in the same ways as their colleagues who perform similarly. So you’re not alone if you sometimes feel left out of the “praise circle”. 

That said, if you feel that others receive credit for your work or are constantly praised for their hard work (when you know you objectively work harder!), you shouldn’t stay silent. Talk to your supervisor about how you’re feeling. 

4. Advancement Opportunities Go Past Your 

It’s been a while (read 2+ years) since you had a chit-chat about your career goals with the manager. Within this time, you saw other people moving up the career ladder, getting salary increases, or earning other career advancement opportunities.

You, however, stay in the same position and continue to deal with the mounting list of tasks no one else seems to have time for. This isn’t okay. 

Read more about how to respond when you’re facing more responsibility for the same pay

5. Your Ideas Are Never Taken Into Consideration 

Whenever there’s a brainstorming session, your ideas never make it to the cut. Likewise, all the proposals on improving workflows or task distribution get met with a deaf ear. Chances are your boss feels convenient with the current state of affairs — and you are responsible for most of the uncool work.  If that’s the case, you shouldn’t be staying at such a workplace for long.

6. You Are Denied Time Off 

Legally, your employer can deny your vacation requests. Morally, that isn’t a nice thing to do when your request for some personal time off is reasonable and doesn’t interfere with anyone else’s plans.

But if your manager nudges you for taking sick days or makes a face whenever you start talking about taking a vacation, this is a big red flag. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, a good manager understands the importance of taking a break and will never deny it. 

So What Do You Do When You Are Not Valued at Work?

The first rational step is to talk to your manager. Explain what factors have prompted you to initiate this conversation. Provide evidence of your performance or unfair treatment compared to others. Then observe what follow-up action the company initiates.
If nothing happens, perhaps it’s time to consider a change. Touch up your resume and start hunting for new jobs!


  • Elena Prokopets

    Elena runs content operations at Freesumes since 2017. She works closely with copywriters, designers, and invited career experts to ensure that all content meets our highest editorial standards. Up to date, she wrote over 200 career-related pieces around resume writing, career advice... more

Leave a Response