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More Responsibilities With Less Pay

This article was written by in Career and Work. 14 comments.


When unemployment remains high, companies are making the most of their staff without hiring or promoting. They don’t have to in today’s job market. When they are dissatisfied with the added responsibilities, employees are unable to find new jobs or believe that it’s not worthwhile to spend the effort looking right now. Employers have the advantage today, and to save the company money, will squeeze productivity out as much as possible.

I’ve left many jobs in the past, and I’ve seen an interesting pattern: the company I leave behind often hired two people to replace me, regardless of my position and my former responsibilities. With my latest move in December, my department was unable to hire anyone due to a directive from executive-level management. My responsibilities were doled out among those who already had full workloads. I’ve stayed in contact with a few of my co-workers, and the past month, a period of year-end financial reporting, was more stressful than it could have been had I stayed at the company.

If there’s any consolation for them, it might be that I left before the company gave out bonuses, so my share of the bonus pool has most likely been distributed among those who are shouldering my former responsibilities. The amount of that bonus is most likely so low that it doesn’t provide much of an incentive, however.

Fortune Magazine offers several tips for dealing with added responsibilities without the promotion or pay increase to match.

1. Prioritize your work. Consult with your management to ensure you focus on the most important tasks and projects. You may find that some of the least important elements can be eliminated. When I was working at the company, when I took on more responsibilities, I eliminated unnecessary tasks as much as possible, and functions that once locked an employee’s time for four weeks every quarter were reduced to two weeks or less.

2. Ask for more training. In an employment environment where fewer people are asked to take on more responsibilities, finding the time for training can be difficult. When I left in December, my department was planning to institute a requirement of a certain amount of training hours each year. This is going to lead to training for the sake of meeting the requirement, and possibly some wasted time. Certain types of training can help you justify a promotion in the future, so consider the type of training that will be most beneficial to you.

3. Enhance your resume. Forbes provides an example pertaining to a degree. If your peers all have MBAs and you don’t, consider completing the degree to keep your resume up to date. I don’t know if MBA degrees are as valuable as they once were, but if you intend on staying with th same group of people, you don’t want to be left behind or overlooked because your resume does not have the same features as those you may compete with for positions and raises.

4. Give your boss a deadline. Make it clear that after three or six months with your new responsibilities without additional compensation or consideration for a promotion, you will want to meet with your boss to discuss performance again. From the boss’s point of view, raises and promotions don’t come automatically with added responsibilities, they come after employees show that they can handle their increased workload. Let your boss know that you’re willing to accept it, but you want to review your performance every three months, more often than your official performance review.

5. Make your pitch for a promotion. Some of the people I worked with at my former company were not interested in moving up in the ranks, not interested in promotions. They may have worked in the same department for decades and are satisfied with the small annual pay increases, and they shied away from or even refused more responsibility when they could. One co-worker even took a demotion in order to avoid additional responsibilities. Those who are unsatisfied with their level or pay need to make the case for why they deserve to move up, and success with added responsibilities may not be enough. For example, quantify how much money you’ve brought into the company or how much you’ve saved the company.

Have you experienced more responsibilities at work recently without the corresponding promotion or pay increase? How are you handling the situation?

Fortune Magazine

Published or updated February 1, 2011. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar tigernicole86 ♦55 (Newbie)

This article was pretty much how my last job was. I was one of the few people on the floor with a BA and who had the ability to translate Spanish and when I to be paid accordingly, I was told that there was no room in the budget. This was after the end of the year eval and I was asked to try again after the mid-year. The mid-year came and went without any headway, so since I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to get anything, I found a new job making more money for only speaking one language and just barely put in my two weeks notice. My supervisor freaked out because I “wasn’t giving her any time at all” to find a replacement. Now since I’ve left and they realized just how much work there is that I did, they hired 2 more people to speak Spanish and they’re actually getting paid decently. While I’m glad they’re actually paying those reps what i wanted to be paid while I was, I was sort of angry that they weren’t willing to pay me that.

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avatar lynn ♦155 (Cent)

This is so common in the work place. It kind of lets us know why government employees have the attitude they do.

This has happened to me a number of times as well. Great employees use to be rewarded, now they are taken advantage of.

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avatar krantcents

An employee can always leave, but the company should realize that this is abuse. If the company does not make it right eventually, many employees will leave. Unfortunately, the good ones go first. It happened to me a long time ago! There is no joy seeing that they hired two people to do your work!

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avatar skylog ♦368 (Nickel)

i can relate with this, as i am in a similar situation as we speak. there are a core group of us at work that i suppose one would consider “the good ones.” we are all trying to deal with exactly what flexo wrote in this piece. times like this have come and gone, but not like we are currently gong through. as a whole, we have each been discussing possibly moving on. i am not sure how our company would deal with the loss if the few of us actually left.

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avatar Sustainable PFsus

I spent over 3 years taking on additional responsibilities well outside my job specification. After a while the carrot on the end of the stick proved to be plastic and I refused to continue with the duties (we’re in a union). I don’t mind going above and beyond for a while, but don’t lie to me telling me there is a new position being created in the near future when there clearly is no plan to do so.

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avatar Sandy @ yesiamcheap

When writing this article you might have been looking over my shoulder. Almost two years my job was consolidated with TWO others with no added pay and no bonus. After slaving away with an impossible schedule for about 9 months I finally gave my boss 3 months to correct the situation. It took 5 months for them to hire one person to do 1/3 of my job. Now that my manager just left his work has fallen onto my shoulders again. They will hire someone by the end of February. Meanwhile I am still overworked and underpaid since I still have what was essentially 2 jobs – one of which once belonged to a manager 3 levels above me. Can we say, jump ship?

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avatar eric ♦1,549 (Half-Dollar)

My company, believe it or not, has experienced some growth in the last year and has hired a bunch of new people. Thank god or else I would be swamped!

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avatar Ridwan ♦295 (Nickel)

I worked in an office where the turnover rate for new employees (other than me, the newest employee had been there for 5+ years) was about 90%. There is one “new” employee that has been there more than a year. I don’t know how my boss expected productivity to go up if he didn’t add new employees and KEEP them.

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avatar 4hendricks ♦248 (Cent)

Most people find themselves in this position. You have some very good points. It is very hard to find a balance – I am a one person office – our other offices have many employees to handle what I handle alone (granted they are a much bigger scale) I also find, your priorities change depending on who you talk to.

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avatar Will @ HackingTheBank.com ♦258 (Nickel)

This list becomes tough to accomplish when you’re in a very rigid corporate environment. There really isn’t much wiggle room when you have 100 new people each year who join the firm at the same level to do the same tasks. Sure, over time you salary adjusts somewhat for your performance, but the salaries stay fairly clumped together. When you’re working 15 hours in a day, though, you try not to think about the salary…or at least you don’t try to calculate your hourly pay…haha.

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avatar rewards ♦31 (Newbie)

Sounds like reason to promote oneself to a higher job level. Does the pool of workers at your job level really increase every year or are people being promoted/quitting?

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avatar Cejay ♦1,521 (Half-Dollar)

Wow, are you at my job? I have worked at the same company for the past 13 years. It was bought out by a larger company about four years ago. Then my boss was terminated 2 years ago on a trumped up charge. The the guy who fired him was fired. So my new manager is out to make a name for himself and it is on the back of us employees. He laid off one person in the office and has instituted a lot of extra paperwork for each procedure we now do. So I work 12 to 13 hour days and toll it is taking on my family is beginning to tell. I have told my supervisor, repeatedly, that I need help and he just says that everyone has too much to do. I am going to enroll in classes to learn other skills. I am working on networking outside of the office. Most of all I am not saying any of this to the powers that be. When the time comes I will just cut my ties and walk.

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avatar Jacob @ My Personal Finance Journey

I experienced this with my employer that I was with before leaving for graduate school. They were in a seemingly permanent “hiring” freeze, and more and more tasks were being given out to the already overworked employees.

The key for me being able to handle it was to make sure to get clear prioritization from my boss.

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avatar Matt turner

So, let the companies that pull this b.s. fail then. They find themselves full of “yes men” and “bullsh!t artists” but no one who can actually work.
I took on more responsibilties, and was left at the whim of a shop hand for my supervisor, and listening to him attempt to understand brain surgery, while he views it as skinning a fish.
Why pay you any more for skinning a fish??????
People at this company are backstabbing betrayors, throwing each other under the bus at all costs to satisfy managment’s desire to pay nothing to anyone.

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