HR Management & Compliance

Have You Been Taken Advantage of at Work?

Remember when that coworker asked you to do a little bit of work for him when he went on vacation? It was nice of you to do that. But then, he never returned the favor. If that sounds familiar to you, you are not alone. In fact, 77% of workers feel like they have been taken advantage of at work.

Source: file404 / shutterstock

A recent poll by Paychex sought to determine if workers felt they had been taken advantage of and, if so, to what extent. The research, which drew upon the answers of just under 1,000 employees, was called “Taken Advantage: Exploring How People Feel Exploited at Work.”

Perceptions of Helpfulness among Coworkers

Participants were asked how frequently they were willing to help a coworker. The number one response, given by 50% of respondents, was “often.” However, when the same people were asked how frequently their coworkers helped them, the most common answer, 43%, was only “sometimes.” Already the results are showing an imbalance between help given versus help received. The full results are below.

Men vs. Women

Respondents were asked many questions about how they felt they were being taken advantage of at work. Those results were then separated by gender. Note that respondents were not told to rate their experiences against their perception of what the other gender experienced.

Women felt more taken advantage of than men across 10 out of 13 possible answers. Among those 3 categories in which men felt more taken advantage of, the difference was by an average of 2%. Conversely, women felt more taken advantage of by men by an average of 4%. Overall, that difference may not seem like much. However, the highest percentages by which women felt more taken advantage of than men are as follows:

  • 10%—Doing tasks that other people don’t want to do/refuse to do
  • 8%—Doing everything that’s asked because you “can’t say no”
  • 6%—Finishing work that a coworker neglected to do

Compare that with the highest (only) three percentages by which men felt more taken advantage of than women:

  • 1%—Having someone take credit for your work
  • 2%—Taking on tasks for an employee who quit or was laid off
  • 2%—Taking on tasks for an employee who went on leave

Those Who Take Advantage

Who were the most likely to take advantage of their coworkers? It turns out that among both salaried and hourly employees, it was their own teammates who were most likely to take advantage of them. Between these two groups, hourly employees reported they were more likely to be taken advantage of than salaried employees.


The research shows that only 30% of those who felt taken advantage of actually took action. That means that 70% did not. With company culture and employee engagement being such problems for so many organizations today, this research reveals another source of these problems.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *