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Watch for These 5 Red Flags at Work

Every workplace offers a unique setting. Some professional environments are bustling with busy employees, quiet atmospheres, and goal-driven vibes. Other workplaces are social settings with a collaborative work ethic, community lunches, and music in the background. Regardless of the type of work environment you find yourself in, watch for these red flags at work.

Woah, what red flags? That’s a fair question, young professional. By red flags, what GenTwenty is referring to are visible warnings in the workplace. We’re talking about problems that you need to be cautious about as an employee. Of course, not all potential problems are true concerns, but some might domino from wee annoyances to large toxic issues.

To help you become aware, we’ve created a list of five big red flags at work to watch for:

1. Work/life balance.

Any job has an expectation of hours you work. As an employee, you agree, whether part-time or full-time, to work an average number of hours. If you’re an hourly worker, you know that you work a set number of hours, and anything beyond the standard 40-hour work week is considered overtime pay. If you’re working as a salary employee, you know that you don’t earn overtime pay if you work beyond your set hours.

Whatever your contract details include, be mindful of the hours you put into your job. If your supervisor attempts to bribe you into working beyond your agreed upon hours, assess if that’s the right move for you. For an hourly employee, it might be appealing to work extra because you earn more pay. For a salary worker, it may not make sense because there is no extra money to earn. Remember to watch your work/life balance. Do not take on more than you can, and certainly don’t agree to free labor. You’re a professional. You deserve fair pay for your talents, skills, and work ethic.

2. Lack of teamwork. 

Is your team negative, drama-ridden, and/or toxic? A lack of teamwork in the workplace is a huge red flag. Without teamwork, collaboration fails, workplace relationships crumble, and business tends to take a hit. Customers can absolutely tell if employees have sour attitudes. Assess whether your team reflects any of these characteristics. If you find that your coworkers gossip, talk behind your back, or sabotage your work day, it might be time for a job change. Any business that lacks teamwork is a company you’re too good for. Don’t settle for a workplace like that.

3. High turnover. 

Any company that lacks retention is a company you don’t want to work for. It’s a telling sign that employees continue walking through the door and leaving after short-lived careers.

Try to pinpoint why your company has high turnover. Is it due to unfair wages? Perhaps management at your company is inexperienced or unfit to lead? Maybe the company does not train its employees properly or invest in their teams. Whatever the reason, high turnover is a big problem. You should absolutely pay attention to how often turnover occurs. It may or may not affect your decision to stay at or leave a company. Ultimately, this is a huge red flag, so watch for it!

4. Lack of feedback. 

Feedback is essential in the workplace. A company with strong management leads by praising employees, offering constructive criticism, and conducting performance reviews. In order for you to feel like a valued employee, you should receive feedback in all forms.

Your supervisor should congratulate you on a job well done, offer areas you could improve (if necessary), and review you on an annual (or even semi-annual) basis. If your supervisor is not invested in your success, it’s a red flag. A company that doesn’t reflect on your job performance is probably a company you don’t have much of a future with. It’s difficult for you to grow professionally and acquire new skills if your company is not invested in you. Red flag!

5. Reckless communication. 

Inconsistent messages from management is a major area of concern. If your company puts out inconsistent announcements or only shares half-truths, you should take notice. It’s difficult for you to do your best work if you work for a company that regularly shifts its messaging.

A company that consistently changes its policies, hides changes in management, or refuses to disclose happenings in the workplace is a company you want to watch for. A good company is transparent. A solid business will keep its employees informed of changes and disclose announcements. A company with strong management will keep its employees in the know. If you find your workplace is shady, be mindful of this!

Any company has the potential to have red flags you should watch for. Whether it’s high turnover, drama, faulty communication, or the like, watch for red flags. You deserve to work for a company you stand behind. You want to rest assured that your employer values you, is invested in your success, and wants to help you grow with the company.

If these things aren’t happening for you, it may be time for you to move on to a new job. Keep an eye out for red flags, peeps!

About the Author

Rachael Warren (Tulipano)

Rachael is a University of Southern Maine graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and a minor in Sociology. She remotely works full-time as a Senior Content Marketing Specialist for Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont. In her leisure time, Rachael enjoys traveling with her husband, finding the next Netflix series to binge, and taking too many photos of her dogs Jax and Kai. Rachael is obsessed with chapstick, favors the Oxford comma, and is a proud Mainer. You'll likely find her exploring New England + beyond.