Whether it’s your first job or your fifth, as an employee you will be governed by various company policies. While most rules are beneficial, some make no sense and (TBH) only cause trouble. Buckle up.
As young professionals, we’re usually pretty excited to join the work force. There’s the thrill of learning something new, wanting to make a name for ourselves and the satisfaction of getting your first pay check. It feels like quite an accomplishment to earn your own money and not depend on your family to cover your expenses. That’s the good part. What’s often left unsaid is that, while gaining our independence (financial and otherwise), we often have to deal with less-than-ideal working conditions. Some are just uncomfortable and others are downright illegal. But one thing’s for certain—justified outrage abounds! Here’s what the 20-somethings of C-Town had to reveal about their worst workplace rules.
“I once worked at an agency for three years for the same pay. I joined as a trainee and pretty soon, I was handling the social media accounts of 10 clients, not to mention the additional projects I was involved in. There wasn’t anyone dedicated to HR or administration, so I didn’t even know that I was supposed to have a review or be considered for a pay raise. It was by chance that a fellow colleague brought up the concept in an offhand comment, and I realized that I was being played. It didn’t take me long to confront the issue and look for a better offer elsewhere,” shared Raya, 26.
The Takeaway: This kind of situation often goes unspoken, because money conversations are always tricky, and we tend to assume that no offer of an increment means we’re not performing well enough. Well, we call BS. It took a great deal for Raya to realize that she was being underpaid, but when she did, she jumped out of her comfort zone to face the issue head-on. Don’t be afraid to initiate the conversation with your employer. Be polite, but undeniably clear about what you feel you’ve worked for.
All Work, No Leave
Every employee is entitled to a certain amount of leave during their probation or trainee period, and after they’ve been confirmed as permanent staff. However, some companies create conditions that make it impossible to use that leave.
“In my previous office, I was the only person handling PR activities for a whole set of clients. That made it extremely difficult for me to take a day off. I used to be flooded with calls and emails all day, every day. So, even if I was at home (or worse, sick), I’d still get no rest. It reached a point when I just couldn’t take it anymore. My personal life was being neglected and I was under a lot of stress, so I put all my efforts into finding a more flexible job,” explained Shanaya, 29.
Charith, 28, is undergoing a similar dilemma at his current workplace. “I work in a multi-national company, and my job is to liaise between two overseas IT product suppliers in different countries with very different time zones and work ethics. My repeated requests to have another individual share my workload have been ignored. Even if I’m tired or sick, I can’t leave my phone, because that would cause a stall in the workflow. I barely take leave, which is very stressful, because I have a little baby at home and I don’t get to spend much time with her.”
The Takeaway: National leave policies exist for a reason—because all work and no play makes us exhausted and a little dull. Having a great job definitely has its benefits, but so does a thriving personal life. Bring it up to your management that you’re feeling a little burned out and ask how you can both work together to improve systems, because an exhausted you means a higher likelihood of mistakes. If it falls onto deaf ears, it’s time to look elsewhere. Just remember to clarify your vacay policy before you sign on the dotted line.
Most companies offer three breaks for meals—breakfast, lunch and tea. Some stick to just lunch and tea, and often the time allowed for such halts are specified. However, Viranya, 21, faced an entirely different situation.
“My first job was at a travel agency. At the beginning, I liked the work and I thought that I would be able to get a lot of experience and build my career there. Little did I know what was in store for me. I was told that we wouldn’t be allowed to step out of the office for any reason, even if it was to buy food (i.e. lunch). The canteen was located in the same building, so meals could take no more than 15 minutes. But, we often had to skip breakfast and lunch, simply because the workload was so heavy. I used to sneak out to get food, because I didn’t want to suffer from gastritis. It was a horrible experience and I’m glad I’m at a better place now.”
The Takeaway: Not allowing employees to have their meals is a serious offence and a violation of labour laws in Sri Lanka. Everyone is entitled to have at least half an hour for their afternoon meal. Sure, some work days can be crazy, but don’t be afraid to crack open your lunch box at your desk. Just make sure to clear it with your boss first, by explaining all the tasks you’re working on and why that chicken biriyani just can’t wait any longer.
Strict Dress Codes
Many corporate organizations tend to follow a fixed dress code for all employees, regardless of their seniority. However, people who are unused to this kind of rigidity and thrive in a more easy-going space may find themselves faltering at their jobs. Jamila, 27, is one such individual who is struggling to adapt to the dress codes at her workplace.
“It’s like going back to school! Cut your hair, clip your nails short, don’t wear bright colours, always dress in proper office shoes. The rules are endless when it comes to attire, and it kills my creativity. I realized that if I wanted to keep the job, I had to adhere to these regulations, but it’s not an easy task. When I meet friends who get to work in laidback environments, with no restriction on clothes, it really gets to me.”
The Takeaway: There’s nothing wrong with implementing office dress codes and demanding all employees abide by certain guidelines. But, it becomes an issue when it’s not right for you. If you can only be productive while wearing bagging tees and flip flops, look for a role that’ll let you shine. A corporate environment, for example, may not be the best decision!
Sri Lanka is home to a diverse range of organizations, and workplace rules and regulations are expanding and evolving fast. So the next time you go job-hunting, make sure you get all the necessary information and do your research before accepting a job. After all, no one wants to be miserable in their daily grind, right?
Not all offices are horrible and make you feel like an anxious, worn out employee. We came across some pretty cool rules at this international C-Town company.
Erandi spills the benefits she gets at her workplace. “Our CEO promotes an open culture where people can communicate freely. This kind of transparency helps us discuss company strategy, marketing, sales and engineering in a productive manner. Everyone is encouraged to participate in making important decisions. This includes debating and providing feedback with all employees, including the CEO, without having any personal or professional grudges. There is no fixed dress code—we get to wear ripped jeans and flip flops. We are also allowed to take as many holidays as we like, as long as all our work gets done on time. Our policy is that it’s better to get your head together and come to work in the right mindset, than slave away without motivation. This way, even though we don’t get paid overtime, we willingly work till late, since we know our personal well-being is always a top priority.”
This article was originally published as ‘Worst Workplace Rules At Sri Lankan Companies (Yikes!)’ in the October 2017 issue of Cosmopolitan Sri Lanka. For more career advice, grab a copy of our latest magazine.
Your email address will not be published.
You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>