Work insanity

Last week was the week from hell at my full-time job. Without going into all the drama surrounding the final outcome – 20% cut in salary started yesterday. Unfortunately there is no correlating 20% cut in work hours as yet, which would make this easier to swallow. The blow to employee morale is understandable as are the angry attitudes and sudden refusal by salaried staff (myself included) to do a single minute more than 8 hours on our Monday through Friday schedules. In addition, the after-hours on-call duties are being refused by everyone.

I understand the reasons behind the cuts, but I vehemently disagreed with that deep out the gate and before addressing some of the other layers of fat in our overhead expenses. I am pretty direct about my thoughts and opinions even when it comes to work, and to be fearful of voicing an opinion in management meetings with the owners would have had me on the pavement and seeking another job years ago. At the end of the day, we are each left with a choice about staying or going, accepting these cuts in pay or seeking other opportunities. For me I will stay for now, because I am not yet ready to seek out another full-time job with comparable benefits. While we are a small business, we have pretty comprehensive medical plans, something that is critical and important to me.

That said, and while the majority of our staff are furious about this situation, I do not expect too much voting with their feet. The flexibility we offer our employees – everything from flexible schedules to working remotely as needed – is almost unheard of for small businesses in our area. In my assessment of our financial standing being flexible with our employees about where and when they get work done is not a factor in our struggles. Unfortunately our owners are seeking quick and easy relief and the salary line item is the most efficient cut to make. There are others as well, of course, but I see even more areas for cuts that they are reluctant to completely unwilling to consider or address.

It is frustrating on so many levels. Bottom line – this is their firm, not mine. I can advise, I can suggest, I even have quite a bit of lattitude in cutting expenses and collecting revenue. Their sacred cows remain sacred, and none of my practical business or basic common sense appeals have been successful. Stand-off? Not at all, not when they possess the ultimate veto power.

In my part-time employers I have a completely different experience. Periodically I do get irritated with them, but usually that’s because of their overall organizational disfunction and reinforces why I take care of their financial and other administrative matters for them. The second quarter just closed, and our financial agreements provide for a modest bonus for me based on various performance measures. Since the quarter just closed and it will be another couple of weeks before I can finish the books, both have indicated they will be giving me a generous bonus because I am so awesome. I think it is just because they are nice, grateful that I am patient when they lose their shit, and probably no one else would put up with them without charging in quarter minute intervals.

After accounting for the taxes I set aside from every dollar I receive from my part-time gigs, M and I should be successful in meeting our 2015 financial goals even with the pay cut. Our vacations and home improvements may have to be curtailed, tabled, or savings money used rather than cash flowed, but I recognize we are blessed in our ability to weather the storm of this cut. Of course it impacts us, but we can still pay our bills and save for retirement, have some fun adventures and finish the home enhancement projects on the schedule this year. Vacations may have to be more modest, or fewer days, or eat cheap while we are away, but we will be together and still have fun.

I also know other than healthcare, we could and would survive on expanded part-time gig income with some cuts to our spending. We could probably handle the healthcare costs if I picked up another gig or expanded hours at my existing jobs, but I don’t necessarily want to do that. But I could. I have options. I could probably find another job, but it’s hard to imagine another place where I have as much flexibility and freedom to do my job well. Plus I am now 54, and age discrimination is alive and well, even if it is mostly disguised.

After a long week of listening to my coworkers vent about the salary situation, I am so ready for a long weekend away from here.

12 thoughts on “Work insanity

  1. I am sorry to hear about your salary cut! Unfortunately I do believe this is going to become a common occurance in this new economic climate. Hang tight…maybe they will change it back when times get better.

    • This is actually the second time in the last 7 years. The first go-round was actually about 8 months, and as receivables rebounded we incrementally restored salaries. This time, I suspect the firm will sink before salaries rise. I did all I could, but the owners are shortsighted and pound foolish rather than penny wise.

  2. In this day and age good health insurance is as important as a retirement and money in the bank. Believe me I have seen bills that would bring you to your knees because people did not have good insurance or no insurance at all. Hopefully everything will balance out in the end

  3. Yikes. The owners picked the easy short term solution that will have real long term consequences. I am not sure any business could recover from that in terms of employee morale and dedication. While it is better under ACA healthcare is still tied to employment for so many people and really limits people’s options. I hope the situation improves quickly!

    • You and me both! We will survive, and truthfully I could have accepted a cut more gracefully if other things had been cut as well. While it’s not pleasant on any day of the week, I also have side gigs that help fund our fun and home improvements. Many of the “kids” in the firm are supporting young families. It stinks all the way around.

  4. Well that stinks! In the big picture of things they most likely just shot themselves in the foot and the company will eventually bleed to death. Their productivity will suffer greatly from the low morale. With the position you are in and knowing there could have been other cuts made first, to lessen the salary cuts, would be infuriating. Is this an industry where you have options to possibly go work for similar companies? At least with accounting you can pretty much go anywhere, if it ends up coming down to it. I agree, at this age I would have a hard time wanting to go look for something new and would just ride it out too.

    • You know, I said pretty much the same thing, repeatedly, about productivity and the hemorrhage of talent we are likely to experience. Several times. I may have been talking to myself. Infuriating is a really nice, mild term to how I feel, because none of my coworkers are aware of what is NOT being cut. Last week I was venting this to M while he was preparing a brisket for the smoker. I explained it was as if the owners were leaving that huge, juicy, obvious layer of fat on top that piece of meat and instead going to the other side and cutting directly into the meaty flesh, cutting a clean 20% of it off and throwing it away. The visual was pretty accurate.

      As for staying or going, I personally am in a pretty good place. But I’m not hardened business enough not to feel alarm and genuine concern for most of my associates with young families or my peers in chronological age and specialized education and experience. Moving on for the former is tough because they value the flexibility our firm offers and for the latter they would have to start over again somewhere else if they could find another comparable position. It sucks.

  5. Wow… 20% cut?! I don’t think I could survive losing 1/5 of my salary. Maybe I missed it, but what’s causing the firm to need to make such drastic cuts?

    • Fund for the service our firm provides has been gradually drying up for about the last 8 years. There has been minimal success in diversifying and explanding our client base, but at the same time the level of overhead, especially the owners’ overhead expenses, has not decreased in the same proportion to our shrinking revenues. I have long known the day of reckoning was coming, unfortunately I am an employee here and not an owner or I might be more effective in impacting decisions.

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