10 actual signs of a bad place to work

So, here’s the deal. The last thing I wrote about on here was the amusing found mailroom treasure that was displayed prominently and anonymously on the printer “10 Unmistakeable Signs of a Bad Place to Work” which, it turned out, was printed out from Forbes.com and while it had a captivating headline, had really little practical value for the world. With that, I give you my own top ten signs you work in a sh*thole, in (mostly) no particular order.

  1. The boss is sexist. First sign of this, he’s an old guy. But to be fair, I’ve worked with many thoughtful, non-sexist fabulous old white guy bosses that are great leaders. (Yes, most bosses are still old white guys, that’s just how it is. I know, it’s 2016, but for now, just move past that thought. But I’m with you. So with you!) Second sign, he downplays everything women do as expected, pays them far less, gives them crappier titles, gives them no opportunities for advancement, and conveniently celebrates any little thing the guys in the office are doing. If they’re old white guys, they get the biggest celebratory office emails and mentions at meetings. Other non-white guys are reluctantly celebrated. Women, forget about it and do your damn job already don’t you have kids to tend to and a husband to wait on. Ugh! Now that’s when you run for the hills, or want to desperately. Or you can be like me and figure you can wait out the a$$hole because the next one, statistically speaking, can’t be as bad, right? (Please!)
  2. The boss is sexist. Because it is worth two spots on a top 10 work list. Trust me, when you work your whole life and you’re treated with respect and as a valuable contributor and don’t feel sexism, then you run into it all of the sudden mid-life at a new job, you will understand how unbearable sexism is from your boss.
  3. Racism at work, anywhere and anyhow. And if you point it out, you’re “overreacting” and “not looking at it from the right angle” or are “so right, but what can we do about it.” It is suspicious when there are zero black people working in your building. I don’t care what color you are, if there are no black people working with you, there is something very wrong with the system of that workplace. Trust me, if you ask, they’ll tell you, there just aren’t any qualified candidates that have applied. But you and I know full-well that isn’t true. Then they’ll point out the handful of non-white people as proof the system isn’t racist. Trust your eyes.
  4. There’s not equal pay for equal work. Seeing a trend here? Working someplace that doesn’t treat its employees with justice as equal human beings on all levels is a major problem. Take a few minutes to look up public data on what people are making. If there are too many disparities in the numbers for people with similar titles and experience levels, that is not a place you want to work.
  5. Too much gossip. When problems are left to fester in hallways and back corners and break rooms, things go south quickly. Gossip happens when questions aren’t answered and people are unhappy. Yes, there are always gossip hounds. It’s fine. People like drama, some too much, yes, no doubt. But take a few minutes and find a busy time of day, stop and stand in your doorway, just out of sight. If you can hear people talking quietly about other people that work there everytime you run this experiment, this is probably not a place you want to work. Plus, rampant gossip means no one cares enough to take the time to address concerns, or the boss’ boss doesn’t think time spent doing such is worthwhile.
  6. They charge you to park in the work parking lot. Several hundred bucks per year. And not just for a good spot, but just to work there.
  7. Lack of events that encourage employees getting together on the company dime to talk to each other. This doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. But giving people regular breathing space to have conversations is not wasting time. I find it actually helps you work harder because meeting new people or getting to know people builds understanding and connections that can work into innovative partnerships and projects. Plus, treating people as humans is nice. Nice places treat people nicely.
  8. Childcare not a focus. Parents need either flexible schedules or good, reliable childcare at or near the workplace. Good places to work usually have some sort of childcare programs. Even if you don’t have kids, be weary of working someplace where bosses don’t give parents a break. If you see a boss-type give person A a hard time for needing time off to take a kid to the dentist or doctor or just attend a school event, know that boss-type will also treat you as a sub-human if you are sick or need to act human or address life outside your job in anyway. Plus, if your coworker with kids can’t catch a break, that’s going to hurt that person’s attitude about working and being productive at work. That’s not going to help anyone. Dissatisfaction is infectious.
  9. Creativity and outside-the-box things aren’t encouraged. There are plenty o reasons to “do it the proven way,” but there are plenty of reasons to experiment and try new things and let people “see what happens.” Not every idea is a good idea, but if no one is allowed to try, nothing will ever change. That’s boring and backwards thinking. You want to work at a place that embraces positive change, not someplace stuck in a rut.
  10. Mental health time. You should get vacation time, at least two weeks off paid per year. You should get paid sick leave, at least a week. But you should also get days off to relax and refresh your brain. A boss that says, great job on this, go home early today and relax, and means it, is a good boss. Being free to sit and think, to take a walk during work time and have that valued, that’s a good place to work.
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