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?
Published or updated February 1, 2011.