Corporate life can be a great way to make a living, but it can also have its downsides.
Many of us romanticize the image of corporate life—high salaries, stimulating employment, glamorous workplaces and the opportunity to follow our goals. However, the reality is that there are numerous dark secrets about corporate life that are often not discussed. From toxic workplace cultures and unethical practices, many such secrets lurk underneath the surface of successful businesses. In this post, we’ll look at eight of the darkest secrets about corporate life that you should be aware of before embarking on a job at a large corporation.
The long working hours are a reality
According to an ADP survey published in 2021, employees work an average of nine hours of unpaid overtime per week, with remote and hybrid workers clocking in even more time—nearly ten hours. This adds up to an average workweek of 50 hours.
Unfortunately, this problem is only getting worse, not only in terms of the amount of time worked but also for the culture it has created. Many workers feel trapped in a cycle of endless work hours, but they might choose to remain silent to avoid backlash from colleagues or employers for speaking out.
However, research has proven that this culture can be harmful, as extended working can lead to heart disease, stroke, anxiety, depression and premature death. Despite all this evidence, the culture of long hours persists, with companies continuing to demand more from their employees, and workers continuing to oblige in a repetitive cycle with no sign of abating anytime soon.
The company’s primary purpose is to generate profits
In the corporate world, companies are primarily focused on generating profits for their shareholders. As a separate legal entity from its employees and officers, the company’s interests will always come before anyone else’s.
This can be seen in how companies treat their employees. For example, when there is a recession, and companies need to cut costs to survive, the first thing they do is lay off employees. This can be devastating for families and communities, as those who have lost their jobs often struggle to find new ones.
In good times, companies may invest in their employees, but ultimately, their primary goal is to increase profits. This may mean investing in new technologies or expanding into new markets rather than giving raises or benefits. While this can be frustrating for employees, it’s important to remember that corporations are not obligated to prioritize their employees’ interests over their own.
As an employee, your primary loyalty should be to yourself and your own career goals and development, rather than solely relying on your company to provide growth opportunities. By prioritizing your own goals, you can navigate corporate life and build a successful career while keeping in mind the company’s primary goal of generating profits for its shareholders.
You need to be your own constant advocate
If you’re hoping that your work will speak for itself and that you’ll be rewarded accordingly, you’re in for a rude awakening. The harsh reality is that your work will unlikely speak for itself in the corporate world.
While hard work is important, it’s not enough to rely solely on your work to get ahead. You need to take a proactive approach to advance your career. This entails networking and developing relationships with relevant people, going above and beyond what is expected of you and making yourself visible and heard. In a nutshell, it includes doing all possible to ensure that your work gets noticed and recognized by those in positions of power.
In a competitive corporate environment, it’s not enough to sit back and wait for recognition to come to you. You need to actively seek out opportunities to showcase your skills and accomplishments. This requires a mindset of constantly learning, adapting and pushing yourself to achieve more.
If you’re not willing to put in the extra effort, then your work will always take a backseat to those who are. So, take ownership of your career trajectory and make sure your work is noticed and appreciated. By being your own advocate, you can maximize your potential and achieve your goals in the corporate world.
At the corporate level, nobody has your back
If you’re under the impression that companies care about your personal growth, you need to think again. At the corporate level, it’s important to remember that companies prioritize their financial success above all else. While they may provide some opportunities for personal growth, their focus is on how you can contribute to their bottom line through increased output, customer acquisition, or other means.
This emphasis on financial gain means that you can’t assume anyone has your back. Even if you have supportive colleagues or a great manager, ultimately the company’s interests will come first. While this truth may be unappealing, it’s a reality that you should keep in mind throughout your career in the corporate world.
There will come a day when you will take a job just for the money
At some point, you may find yourself taking a job solely for the salary. This is an unpleasant part of the corporate world that is often overlooked. When you first graduate and need to find gainful employment, any job may simply be the only choice. It could be far from your ideal career path, but it can pay the bills.
However, as time goes on, you’ll become weary of working just to work. You may begin to demand more from your occupation than just a paycheck. This is the time to start looking for a new role with higher earnings potential and more professional growth opportunities. Therefore, don’t be surprised if one day you decide to leave your current post exclusively based on earnings. It’s something many people encounter.
The need to be “always on”
In today’s business world, the pressure to be “always on” is intense. With the advent of technology, we are now expected to be available 24/7, and many companies require employees to be online and accessible outside of work hours. This culture of constant availability can lead to burnout, anxiety and depression.
It’s not uncommon for workers to feel like they can never disconnect from their jobs. They might take work calls during family dinners, check their email before going to bed or answer work-related texts on weekends. This always-on culture can erode work-life balance and lead to burnout.
Office gossip and politics are definitely not a myth
Despite the professional facade that companies like to put up, there is often a lot of drama and intrigue going on behind closed doors. Workplace politics, office gossip and competition among employees are not uncommon in many organizations. This can create a toxic work environment and can lead to stress, anxiety, and reduced productivity.
It’s important to be aware of these dynamics and their potential impact on your work and well-being. While it may be tempting to engage in office gossip or compete with your colleagues, it’s important to stay focused on your work and avoid getting drawn into unnecessary drama. Building positive relationships with your colleagues based on mutual respect and professionalism can help create a healthier and more productive work environment.
The pressure to perform will always exist
There will always be times when the pressure to perform at your job feels overwhelming, no matter how much you love your job. The reality of corporate life is that this pressure will never completely go away. Working in a fast-paced, competitive environment is unavoidable, and someone will always be outperforming you.
This can be discouraging, but it’s essential to remember that everyone experiences setbacks and challenges in their career. By focusing on personal growth and learning from mistakes, you can develop resilience and navigate the pressure more effectively.
While the corporate world does have its dark secrets, it’s important to remember that no job is without its challenges and that there are also many opportunities for growth and success. By being aware of these challenges, you can prepare yourself to handle them in a way that won’t lead to burnout or overwhelming stress. Remember to focus on building positive relationships with your colleagues, setting boundaries around work-life balance, and seeking out professional growth opportunities. With the right mindset and preparation, you can thrive in the corporate world and build a successful career.
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