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5 Red-Flag Signs Your Boss Is Taking Advantage Of You

Photo: fauxels / Pexels 
people working in an office

Employees who have been in the workforce for a while have extensive experience navigating office politics, but that doesn’t always mean it’s easy to tell when work is turning toxic.

A positive working environment depends on the people you work with, especially the people in charge of your team.

Leadership coach Phillip Holmes shared various ways to know if your manager is treating you or your team poorly.

Here are 5 red-flag signs that your boss is taking advantage of you:

1. 'Ignoring burnout: They dismiss you when you’re stressed and diminish signs of burnout'

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Corporate culture in the U.S. demands a lot from workers. The overarching expectation is that employees give their all to their jobs, without being taken care of in return.

Burnout at work is a common phenomenon, due to intense and unforgiving schedules and a general attitude of making work your main focus. Exhaustion and low productivity are symptoms of burnout, yet there are other subtle signs you’re heading towards a major crash.

Psychologist, Dr. Julie Smith, shared indicators of imminent burnout, starting with feeling disconnected from the people around you. 



Procrastinating, avoiding simple tasks, and ignoring self-care routines are other signs you’re feeling burnt out.

Even though burnout is common, it’s also something that can be avoided, given the right kind of support from management. 

The first step to healing from burnout is acknowledging the situation and requesting a shift in your schedule, whether that’s through time off or rearranging your workload.

Of course, those tactics require your boss to be on board with helping you out. If they ignore or diminish your needs, it could be a sign that they’re taking advantage of you as an employee. 

2. 'Excessive workloads: They increase the team’s work without any additional support'

If your boss is assigning you more and more to do without help to get that extra done, it’s a definite sign they’re pushing you too hard. 

5 Red-Flag Signs Your Boss Is Taking Advantage Of You Photo: energepic.com / Pexels 

Delegating tasks and splitting up the workload can help you manage, but if your boss is resistant to offering techniques to lessen your stress, they’re taking advantage of you.

3. 'Unrealistic deadlines: They set deadlines you can’t meet, without taking PTO or holidays into consideration'

A good manager knows that their employees have lives outside of work, which include tending to family obligations and taking time to recharge. 

5 Red-Flag Signs Your Boss Is Taking Advantage Of You Photo: fauxels / Pexels 

When a boss assigns important tasks, they should consider timing and structure deadlines around the holiday season and people’s time off. 

Ignoring the fact that employees can’t always be on-call is a major indicator that your boss is using you to their advantage.

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4. 'Holiday pressure: They use unrealistic deadlines to pressure employees to work on holidays or cancel their scheduled leave'

A boss who’s taking advantage of their workers will use the previously mentioned deadlines to pressure people into working during their vacation time or even canceling their time off. 

While work holds value and can create a sense of meaning in people’s lives, it’s not the sole part of our existence. 



A boss who understands that you have responsibilities separate from your work is a boss who respects you and your time. 

On the other side of the spectrum, bosses who take advantage of you will put undue pressure on you to make work your primary focus, even when their demands aren’t manageable or realistic. 

Learning how to set clear boundaries in the workplace is a form of self-care, something that everyone deserves. 

5. 'Unpaid overtime: They don't offer additional pay or paid time off'

"Know your worth" is a common self-help mantra, but it's an essential sentiment at work. 

You are paid to do a job, and each hour of the day you spend doing that work has an allotted value. When you work beyond your contractually obligated hours without pay, your job is essentially stealing from you. A boss who is taking advantage of you will make you think that being available during off-hours is the only way to stay in the company's good graces, and doing it willingly without additional pay is the cherry on top.

The truth is, you likely won't be rewarded, so, for your health and well-being, it's best to stick to your boundaries or find another job.

It's okay to say no at work.

If your boss is exhibiting these red flags and your job satisfaction is starting to suffer, it's time to take a step back. Obviously, you don't want to create a hostile environment or create an acrimonious relationship with management, but that doesn't mean you have to be taken advantage of either. 



Setting clear boundaries and also offering solutions when you need to say no can help you create the balance you need and deserve. 

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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers social issues, pop culture analysis, and all things to do with the entertainment industry.