Red Flags in the Workplace: A Personal Rant

I have been meaning to make a post about this topic for a long time but was waiting for the right time. As many of you know, I started a new job at the beginning of March and overall the experience has been wonderful! Everyone is so nice and helpful, the environment is very collaborative and stress-free, the company clearly cares about its employees, and best of all there is a huge amount of trust between managers and their associates.

Some might roll their eyes and say, "Of course, Jenny. You just described about 1,000 companies in the this country". But I bring this up because this is a drastically different environment when compared to my previous work environment. In a way, it's a bit like going from an abusive long-term relationship and after some taking some time to recover, finally founding a healthy, happy relationship. If that sounds like an extreme comparison, those who know me well know that this is no exaggeration.

On several occasions I attempted to write a perfectly honest review of my former employer on and nearly every time I was told, in a much more abstract way, that my comments were out of line. I consider myself a straight shooter, and I do not regret any of my allegedly horrible reviews of the company and the work environment: I do not wish that kind of hell on anyone.

Now that I am on the mend in a much better environment, I have strongly felt the need to get out my anger and frustrations about my former employer in order to feel better and move on. So in order to make it productive, I decided to put my qualms in the form of a list of "red flags" and hopefully if you find yourself in a work environment that meets any or all of this criteria, I beg you: get out of there as soon as you can. There is a better world out there and life is too short to be miserable in a stupid job.

1. Your personal safety and health are put in unnecessary jeopardy - At one point, our office was the only one operating on the entire floor after the building decided to do asbestos cleaning. The building would've paid to move us to another location for our safety, but upper management at our company did not want to move anyone because it might impact operations. They would rather risk us all getting cancer than allowing us to work from a different location.

2. They are too cheap to buy coat hangers for the office and tell you to bring your own - I kid you not. A packet of 10 coat hangers costs about $1. We were told that coats had to be hung in a closet and not on the back of our chairs, but there were not enough hangers for all...gee...15 people in the office. An investment of $1.50 would have saved all of this nonsense.

3. On more than one occasion, you have tried to report upper management to the IRS and the SEC - No joke. I've contemplated putting in anonymous tips to these agencies with the hope that they send an auditor and that more than one person would leave in handcuffs. Even if it meant losing my job, it would've been worth it.

4. Upper management devotes a good 90% of their day to spying on their employees - I understand the notion of a company wanting to be secure. However, when you have to install security cameras to see if you're employees are working for a solid 10 hours per day, there's something seriously wrong with your management style.

5. Terrorism, natural disasters, and city-mandated closures are no excuse to leave work or work from home - During one massive snowstorm, the governments of both New York and New Jersey shut down all forms of transportation and mandated that unless you work in an emergency job, you should work from home. It was just a thorn in the side of upper management that they couldn't spy on their employees to "see if they were actually working." Instead they channeled their frustrations into emails every 3 minutes instead of every 5 minutes to ask what we were doing.

6. You lump sales phone service in the same room as people who are paid to think for a living and are paid a fraction of the price - Salesmen are loud and constantly on the phone. I thrive in a quiet environment and need to read for most of my day. Smart people: explain why this is a bad idea for the morons who came up with this structure.

7. You are told you are worthless just about every hour - So I couldn't eavesdrop on corporate calls to make a call on a stock that inevitably shot higher or lower the next day. This is no reason to insult my work ethic.

8. You are required to put in more than 8 hours per day and still only be paid for 8 hours - Sit at your desk by 7:00 and even though the market closes at 4:00 PM, don't even think about leaving before 5:00. In the winter I would leave for work in the dark and get home in the dark.

9. You find yourself taking sick days just so you can overcome extreme exhaustion - 5 sick days per year and the rest of my vacation days were used to make small trips to see my family. Some days I felt fine but getting out of bed was simply not an option.

10. You are threatened to be fired just about everyday, and yet they never follow through - I saved all the emails. They aren't directed to anyone in particular, but the concept is the same: if you don't want workers, don't hire people in the first place.

11. You have to constantly be asked "what are you working on?"- Just because I'm not sending an email every 5 minutes does not mean I'm not working. In fact, I spent about as much time defending my work as I did actually working.

12 Your benefits are not benefits at all - When upper management gets better healthcare plans than the rest of their employees, get out of there. If vision insurance isn't covered, get out of there. If your retirement savings only amounted to $800 over 2 years, get out of there.

13. You are given no training, no evaluations, are required to train others, and yet you are constantly told that nothing you do is correct - Humor me: what the fuck IS correct?

14. If you ever complain about anything, YOU are the problem - This economy is evolving based on new and innovative ideas. If you won't listen to any constructive suggestions on how to evolve a business successfully, be prepared to sink with your lousy ship.

15. Even though you are forced to work 10 hours per day, you are not given a lunch break or any break for that matter - I savored the 20 minutes that I intentionally took each day to get lunch and slowly walk back to the office. If there's one thing I had to learn it's how to work and eat at the same time. It's a habit I've unfortunately kept.

16. Even if you leave the office with a life-threatening emergency, you aren't treated with the least bit of sympathy and are forced to use a vacation day - One morning, I had a horrible allergic reaction to something in my morning fruit smoothie to the point where my whole face puffed up and my throat started to close. I made the decision to leave work to go to the ER but only after my employer fought me on the notion of whether or not this was something I could just "tough out". Thanks to my employers shitty insurance, that whole doctor's trip cost me $500 and a vacation day.

17. Every woman in your building, including yourself, are sexually harassed by the same man in your office and yet he is not fired - Enough said. And I pray that this guy is in jail right now.

18. They won't provide you with business cards because "no one uses those anymore" - This was the excuse they gave me when I asked for business cards. No networking means no potential for career advancement or change...which is exactly what they want.

19. Your co-workers engage in all kind of illegal activity and we have to pretend like nothing is wrong - Gambling, sketchy stock bets, cocaine addictions: I've seen them all.

20. You find yourself wishing you would die or be incapacitated in some way so you don't have to go back to work - This is never healthy in any situation, least of all in the situation that serves as your bread and butter. There are millions of jobs out there where you won't feel like death is a better alternative.

21. You are forced to take vacation time to attend a family funeral - This was not me in this situation, but it made my blood boil when they did this to someone else.

22. You are constantly being set up to fail and then reprimanded when you cannot accomplish the impossible - I'm very aware about my abilities to deliver when it comes to a job. If you ask me to cook a meal, I will make dinner AND a dessert. If you ask me to lasso the moon, I will tell you to go fuck yourself. Which is exactly what had to be done.

I feel SO much better now.

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