Sunday, May 08, 2011

WSJ: Why you work more -- and enjoy it less

In a new story today, The Wall Street Journal reports:

Emboldened by an unemployment crisis, businesses have asked employees to take on extra tasks that have little to do with their primary roles and expertise. And some believe this shift is permanent.

Workplace experts say the superjob is the logical next step in management's quest to make the workplace more cost efficient.

The latest shift started when businesses redistributed the workload during the recession; last year's nascent recovery intensified the process. In a recent survey by Spherion Staffing, 53% of workers surveyed said they've taken on new roles, most of them without extra pay (just 7% got a raise or a bonus).

Note: most WSJ stories are behind a paywall.

Speed up the line!
To be sure, you're not the only ones working harder:


  1. What amazes me in these troubled times for our business is how management keeps under-performing or low-performing employees on the payroll while piling the work on others. All things being equal, you might expect slackers to be out the door in the layoffs, but this has not happened. We still have co-workers who are not carrying their weight, and bosses whose role contributing to the future of this operation is questionable. It is a very strange period.

  2. New roles in the newsroom: Handling overflow and misdirected customer service calls. Cleaning, recycling and trash removal.

  3. Zero Tolerance Zed5/08/2011 6:55 PM

    Meanwhile the higher ups who are steering the company toward the rocks get more salary, bonuses and a little something cause we like you, while we get asked to take on "added responsibilities", get furloughed, face lay-offs, and pay cuts. I personally have taken a zero tolerance to the "creeping" added responsibility. I politely tell my supervisor that my plate is full. This isn't lying on my part, it is full and I will not go the extra mile and work uncompensated hours so the likes of Craig or dis-Grace can got another big payday while the company they are supposed to be leading stalls and goes in to free fall. I advise you to do the same. Say NO to the creeping added jobs. Because they suddenly become part of your job description and if you fail, in addition to the 50 thousand other things you have to do, guess who's head is on the block? CYA my friends.

  4. 6:55 -- Good for you. Me and a number of my friends do the same. As long as management is allowed to pile work on you for no extra pay, they'll do it.

    When asked to take on an additional project, I politely ask, "You're OK with the overtime that will require?" And that usually ends the conversation, as nobody is OK with overtime. It's an added expense. If they do OK the overtime I do the job and take the extra pay.

    It amazes me how many people willingly take on more work -- and more unpaid hours -- even after watching so many colleagues get shown the door. The company has no loyalty, and you should have no loyalty to it. Everyone needs to go to work, do what their paid for (and only that), then leave.

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  6. I know this is going to sound arrogant, but I already feel like Im shouldering more load because of the incompetence of others. But I also find myself notncomplaining about it. Its not loyalty. Its surviving.

  7. 11:34 -- If that's true, you could probably cut back a little ... or demand to be paid for the extra work. Assuming, that is, you have to put in extra hours to carry the extra workload. If you don't, it's no big deal.

    If you do, I would suggest that you start putting in for the OT. The company won't keep you around just because you work free OT. I've seen lots of folks fired who worked plenty of unpaid OT and they probably regret it now. At the worst, they could have banked a little money if they demanded to be paid for the hours they worked. At best, they would have been less stressed and had more time off.

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  10. The great unsaid here is that people who are asked to do extra work may feel pressured to do so, or risk losing their job in the next round of lay-offs, etc. In Gannett's culture for the last four years, you never know when another round of furloughs or lay-offs is lurking around the corner.

  11. 6:55 am and others - Take a good look at your official job description. Chances are, it includes a catch-all phrase:
    "Any other duties assigned by management" or something to that effect.
    That allows "management" to add any tasks they want to. They do not have to relate to your skill set.
    There might be tasks they want to entrust to someone they feel is reliable or they might assign a task they want to use to get rid of you.
    I like your query about Overtime when this happens to you, though. So who ends up doing the work? Probably an exempt employee who doesn't get overtime.

  12. Lucille Ball is the best! I hadn't watched that bit in a long time. It is truly priceless. Thanks for the laugh, Jim!

  13. Is there any law or state law that determines what is a legal limit for exempt employees?

  14. 11:34 here. OT is not possible. I basically suck it up at USA Today to hold on to my job. Of course, busting your ass here is no guarantee either. They keep front loading with veep/level hires and useless verticals overlords and im probably a goner,too.

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