Ashley Feinstein Gerstley – also known as @thefiscalfemme on TikTok – is a financial adviser and author of Financial Adulting: Everything You Need to be a Financially Confident and Conscious Adult. On TikTok, Gerstley shares tips with her nearly 1,400 followers on how to advocate for financial equality.
In one TikTok video that has since gone viral, Gerstley listed out a handful of “toxic workplace phrases” alongside their hidden meanings.
For example, if a job interviewer uses the phrase “fast-paced environment”, it might mean that an employee will have trouble asking for any time off from their job.
If a job listing requires a “self-starter” employee, this can signal that a worker will not be offered any formal training for their position, but will still be expected to produce results. If they say “must wear multiple hats”, this could mean that a workplace is understaffed, Gerstley said.
Finally, if a workplace says it’s “like a family”, chances are an employee will not receive any raises, she said.
Gerstley’s helpful TikTok received more than 1.6m views, and prompted viewers to share their own red flag phrases to look out for when searching for a job.
“‘Up to $15 an hour’ – you’re not making $15 an hour,” commented one TikTok user.
“Also fast paced environment = constant unrealistic deadlines that’ll have you working [overtime] three times a week,” explained someone else.
One user said, “Flexible scheduling: we’ll schedule you whenever we damn well please,” while another one wrote: “Wear multiple hats = three people’s jobs for one salary.”
Many TikTokers specifically called out the phrase “We’re like a family” for signaling a toxic work environment.
“We’re like a family means you’re gonna be expected to cover anyones shift,” shared one person.
“We’re like a family means you’ll be paid less and asked to work for free,” commented another TikTok user.
Another person shared a helpful tip: “If you see ‘family’ you better run the other direction”.