A curious thing happened on the way to the promotion, it seems. More and more often, people are being asked to do more for the same pay.
If I had to pinpoint it, I’d say this curious phenomenon had its origins with the financial crisis of 2008, and it hasn’t abated since the economy has picked back up. (According to a Careerbuilder.com survey from 2009, 47% of employees surveyed were taking on the work of 2 or more people for no additional pay).
I’ve spoken with many professionals about this, especially those still establishing themselves in their career. Because of that, I began to see a need for help deciding when this was ok and when it was over the top, so I’m sharing the main questions I ask when asked to take on more:
- How “out of scope” are these additional responsibilities? Are you in IT, but they’re asking you to create social media content because both involve a computer? (Weirder things have happened). Get crystal clear on what’s specifically being asked and dig into why. Find out if you can really contribute.
- Will your core job suffer and if so, by how much? They hired you to do a job, right? If you’re busy doing something that has little to no overlap with your actual role, and it requires an additional workstream or workstreams to manage, then chances are it won’t make for the most productive days. If you decide to try out taking on these additional tasks, make it clear with your manager that you’re treating this x amount of time as a trial period and that you’ll report back transparently and openly about how it’s working out- with notes and examples- so that he or she can see exactly what’s going on and what’s suffering.
- What’s the time frame for these new tasks? Is this a short period of time while they’re looking to hire someone? Can they not give you a time period? Pay attention to the specificity or vagueness of the request. Try to nail down exactly what would be expected of you and the timeframe, and request it in writing. If that doesn’t jive with you, send a note recapping the conversation so that it’s documented. Note: I do not mean to have this for any “gotcha!” conversations. Instead having this to refer to when a busy manager might not remember a conversation from months prior will be helpful to moving things along.
- What career advancement could occur from taking on these additional responsibilities? Can you see path to something that might interest you down the road if you do this thing they’re asking you to do now? In other words, is this an opportunity masquerading as More Work? If you don’t know, it’s time to have a chat with your boss.
After you work through the questions above, it’s time to determine whether or not this is worth it financially and mentally for you.
Is there an opportunity for a pay raise above the usual ‘raise for inflation’ if you take on the additional responsibilities and do them well? Is there something that could eventually come off your plate pending a new hire or an intern?
The key to all of this is transparent and open dialogue. (Read: that does not mean ‘complain.’) Have a realistic, non-emotional conversation about the impact on the business if you’re unable to do a, b and c. Enter the conversation with an outcome you’d like to have in mind, but don’t try to overly control the conversation. At the end of the day, only you know what you value and what you are able and willing to do. If you feel like you’re not being compensated appropriately for value you’re providing, you have the power to work with your manager or team to figure out a plan of action or seek other opportunities.
Have any other tips or questions to ask yourself when faced with more responsibility for the same pay? Leave them in the comments below!