A reader writes:
I have a question regarding flexible schedules and salaries. To give some background, I’ve been with my employer for a little over two years as a mid-level manager. I love my job and have been told that I do a great job and am valued. The company is a bit old fashioned, is big on “face time,” and does not offer much flexibility in terms of working remotely or creating special arrangements.
In the spring, I had a baby, and prior to that had asked my manager (a corporate VP) for more flexible working arrangements – namely, I was hoping to take one day off every two weeks and “make up” the time, mostly in the office (by skipping lunch, coming in early, or due to work-related travel). They were very kind but declined this scenario, instead offering me a “90%” schedule where I would have every other Friday off at 90% pay. There are a few other people in the office who also have this schedule and it seems to be working well for all of us.
I understand their discomfort with the ambiguity around making up the work hours and was appreciative of this new schedule. However, now that I’ve been working under this schedule for about seven months, I am starting to resent the decrease in salary. My work has in NO way decreased, and in fact, I feel that I am being entrusted with more responsibility than ever. My work is project-based, so things need to get done by deadlines regardless of when I am in the office. Although I do not work on the days I am off, I always check email and respond to questions. I make a point to be “extra” efficient when I am in the office, often skipping lunch or water cooler talk to get all of my work accomplished before my day off.
One other point is that I felt my salary was a bit low to begin with, but I overlooked it due to love of my job and team. Now, 10% feels like a big cut. I just generally don’t feel properly compensated for my contributions.
We are coming up on the annual review period in my office, and I am sure I’ll have a positive review. Given that, I’m not sure how to handle my concerns around salary. Ask for a raise? Ask for my old salary, and consider it an annual raise? Ask to “meet in the middle”?
I don’t want to rock the boat because I really do love both my job and schedule………but I want to feel fairly compensated and recognized, as well. Can you help guide me on how to handle this situation? Am I right to bring it up, or should I just let things lie and be happy with my more flexible schedule?
It’s absolutely reasonable to bring up. You’re being compensated at 90%, but producing 100% of the work you used to. That’s not how this was intended to work.
Or … maybe it was. It’s possible that your company sees this as a fair trade for letting you be off one day every two weeks — similar to negotiating extra vacation time, where you’d get more days off but usually wouldn’t get an accompanying reduction in workload. In a way, what you negotiated is extra vacation time — just staggered on a regular schedule. In their eyes, it’s possible that you agreed to work fewer hours for less pay, but that a different workload was never agreed upon.
And yes, this might sound crazy — after all, if you’re working 10% less, shouldn’t everyone expect that you’ll produce 10% less? But actually, it doesn’t always work that way. There’s even a school of thought that people can produce just as much in a four-day work week because they’re more focused and efficient. Your company might have been looking at it like that. (I’m pretty sure I don’t agree with that, but there are indeed intelligent people who do.)
But regardless, you’re not happy with the current arrangement and so it’s worth bringing up. I’d present it pretty much as you have here: “I’ve found that despite working 90% of the time, my workload — and productivity — has stayed where it was before my schedule change. I’d like to talk about adjusting my salary to reflect the fact that I’m producing at the same level as before we cut my salary.”
See what they say. You note that they’re old-fashioned, so they might just not be open to paying you the same as someone who’s there every day, regardless of the results you’re getting. But it sounds like you’re due for a raise soon anyway, so this is a totally reasonable thing to roll into that conversation.