Job Doc

I’m an individual contributor. Last year, we had a reduction in staff, and I had to take on more work outside of my usual job. I was told we would hire on additional employees, but that hasn’t happened yet. Is there anything I can do? Elaine Varelas guides

Reductions in staff are hard on the individuals impacted, the organization, and the remaining employees as well. Resources are stretched thin, and retained staff pick up more than their usual workload as those responsibilities have to go somewhere. Elaine Varelas guides on how to address these issues and how to partner with management to make sure additional support is provided.

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Q: I am an individual contributor at my organization. We had a reduction in staff almost a year ago and I had to take on a lot more responsibilities at my job. My company promised to hire additional staff to help with my increased responsibilities. So far, it hasn’t happened. Is there anything I can do?

A: I feel your pain. Most people have taken on additional responsibilities during Covid based on reductions in force and companies’ inabilities or fears of hiring new staff. There is absolutely support you can provide to your organization to get the help that was promised you. First, it is important for you document your new responsibilities. This should include showing the amount of time and level of responsibility that your job entails, as well as what is involved in your additional duties. You should also ensure that your previous job description is current, and you ought to be able to show you are now responsible for more than one full-time position.

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You need to understand why hiring hasn’t happened. Does your company not want to hire because they can’t afford it? Are they trying to hire, but have not been able to find the right talent or get enough people interested in the role? If the situation is financial, you can meet with your manager to discuss how some of these additional responsibilities can be parsed out to others in the organization so that your workday does not continue to stretch you to unreasonable levels.

If the situation is that they have not been able to find the talent they need, there are a few ways you can help. You can start by encouraging the organization to offer an employee referral bonus. This process financially rewards current employees who bring in needed talent. These programs are very successful in organizations, and in this competitive market, it can be exactly what’s needed to secure a new hire. If the job isn’t attracting applicants, do some research on competitive pay and make sure the job is desirable to potential hires.

Between HR and your manager, having a conversation that gives you insight as to why a new hire hasn’t been made and when the organization can relieve you from your additional duties is a good idea and a conversation you need to have. It is critical that you initiate a conversation and secure a meeting for this discussion. You owe it to yourself to bring it up. If the organization lets you know that they can’t afford to hire a new person, you should understand that, but they should also know you need help prioritizing the work and no one should expect you to do a job and a half in one week. The conversation should be professional, honest about how long things take, how committed you are to the job and the organization, what you’ve demonstrated since the initial reduction, and that you need help gaining balance and support for these responsibilities. There’s no reason to be angry with the business, but what you do want to have is a mutual understanding about your position and the impact these additional responsibilities are having.

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In the end, you can do the work for a short period of time, but it’s not sustainable over a long period. If your manager is not willing to have a conversation with you, that is a big red flag. As an employee, your concerns should be aligned with the concerns of your manager. If they’re not, you need to find a place where your wellbeing is key.

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