Most of us have had a negative workplace experience at some point in our lives. It may have been an impossible workload, a difficult company culture, a lack of interest, or a miserable coworker or supervisor. Regardless of the reason, it probably left you never wanting to work for that company again!
In the past, I worked in Human Resources, talking to and interviewing job-seekers on a regular basis. As my experience with the company became increasingly negative, I found myself wanting to tell people, “You don’t want to work here! You will be miserable like me!” However, I maintained my composure and represented the company in a professional manner. I heard dozens of stories of awful workplace experiences and learned some very important facts about company cultures – and how to tell if they will be a bad place to work!
Below are 10 unmistakable signs that a company is a bad place to work.
1.) They hesitate to show you the employee handbook
Before you accept a new job position, always request a copy of the employee handbook! This is one of the smart questions to ask a potential employer during your final interview. If they hesitate to show you the handbook, RUN! Chances are that their handbook may be unreasonably strict and complicated, placing you in a company culture that micromanages your life like a child.
2.) No- Moonlighting Policy
A No-moonlighting policy means that you cannot have another part-time job or hobby that makes you some extra money! You are not a child – you should not be forbidden to better yourself by bringing in some additional income.
I have worked for a company with this policy, and it was miserable! I even encountered employees turning their co-workers in for this reason. This company policy is only reasonable if it is under the “Non-Compete Agreement” where you are not allowed to work for another company in the same line of work – as to not reveal sensitive or confidential information.
A company should seek to empower their employees to better themselves, not prevent them from building their savings with a few side jobs.
3.) Your work hours are able to be changed – at the discretion of your supervisor
You should always be aware of your work hours, and have the ability to discuss and agree to any shift changes.
I worked for a company that failed to tell me that they would be changing me to an afternoon/evening shift. They withheld the truth from me until I was working for them, so they could nonchalantly inform me that my work shift would be changing. I was so disgusted by their dishonest behavior that I quit my job and was hired by a much better company several weeks later.
As an asset to a company, you have the right to know what hours you are expected to work! Make sure you have your dictated work schedule in writing, as to prevent any confusion in the future.
4.) You are a salary employee – expected to do overtime
As stated above, always make sure that you receive a dictated work schedule in writing. Many companies move valuable employees over to salary, so they can avoid paying overtime for the extra hours that employee puts in.
Some companies dictate that salary employees are expected to work additional hours to ensure that all work is completed in a timely manner. Don’t be fooled by this wording in the employee handbook! Wise companies that want to retain valuable employees will always have a reward system for overtime and will insist that there is an equal work/life balance. This will always boost employee satisfaction and prevent the signs of workplace burn-out, something that can take a serious toll on your health.
5.) Old-school policy of managers controlling internal transfers and promotions
This policy is outdated and completely unfair to valuable employees! Wise companies ensure that employees are able to apply for internal jobs that they are interested in – completely separate from their managers recommendations. If an employee senses that their manager has destroyed their chances for an advancement or job transfer, they will become resentful and may find a new position at a different company.
I worked for a company with this outdated system and experienced the discouragement of being turned down for several transfers because my manager reported that I was “too valuable” in my current position. Several months later, I found a job at another company (much to the shock of the previous company.) You do not want your talent and work ethic wasted in a dead-end job where you are restricted from bettering yourself.
6.) No clear policy on formal employee evaluations
You deserve to know if the company is satisfied with your abilities to complete your job duties, exceeding expectations. If there is never an evaluation period, you will never know what your manager likes or dislikes about you!
Employee evaluations are a two-way street. They are incredibly important, both for you to feel appreciated and for you to know what to improve on. However, it also gives you a chance to formally explain what you need to properly complete your job. Without this evaluation period, you may feel unappreciated or unaware of duties you should be performing differently.
7.) No time off your first year
Good companies know that a fair time-off policy is incredibly important for the happiness and well-being of their employees. Every employee must have a decent amount of time to take off for doctor’s appointments, relaxation, mental health, and family.
Many companies still give 2 weeks of vacation only after you have worked there for 1 year. This leaves you with a stressful and restrictive first year with that company. Good companies know that employees not only need vacation days, but they also need several personal days for their personal happiness and wellbeing. These companies almost always have lower turnover rates!
Pro Tip: Vacation and personal days can be negotiated during the interview process. While working in Human Resources, I was given instructions to increase the number of personal days based on the value of the potential employee – but only if they asked. Always negotiate – especially if you have an impressive resume!
8.) Current employees seem unhappy
Although work usually isn’t the most wonderful place to be, the atmosphere should be relatively pleasant. If you see employees hunched over their desks, miserably staring at computers and taking calls, run! You may feel excited now, but you will soon become a miserable robot just like them.
During the interview process, always ask the interviewer, “From your experience, what is the company culture like?” Start a conversation with other employees you may encounter in the reception area or parking lot. Ask them if they like their job! You may be surprised at how honest some people may be about their miserable job situation. Current employees can give you a first-hand account of what your life would be like working for that company.
9.) The employee handbook has some ridiculous company policies
I have seen it all! No beverages or snacks while at your desk. No facial hair on men. You will not be given a reference if you leave the company. Time off must be requested at least 3 months in advance. You must sign a 2-year company contract. Your attendance is required at the Christmas party.
Too many childish and unfounded rules can create a miserable company culture. Although there will always be immature employees who make dumb decisions, a rule should not be created as a reactive measure against their stupidity. This will create resentment in the employees that are responsible and valuable, causing them to consider finding employment elsewhere.
10.) They don’t treat you well during the interview process
Have you ever heard the saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”? That goes for companies as well! If your calls and emails are not returned and you have to wait weeks for them to communicate with you – walk away! A company will never love you more than they do at the point when they are hiring you. If they don’t value your time and talents, do yourself a favor and shred that job application!
There are dozens of jobs where you are treated like a valued company asset. Don’t settle for a position where you suspect that you may be unhappy. Look for the signs and be aware of your surroundings. The good thing is, you can always move on to another job if you are dissatisfied! Did you know that job-hopping can help you significantly increase your salary?
If you have any questions about this article, just let us know in the comment section below! We’d be happy to help you out!