asking for a raise when your job changes in your first month

A reader writes:

I wrote to you recently describing how I was turned down for a position with an organization I volunteered for and was subsequently offered another position entirely to be the Executive Administrative Assistant/Communications Assistant. Well, I accepted the offer, negotiated an extra $1.50/hour, and was thrilled!

Two days before I started, I found out (from a coworker, not my supervisor) that the office manager had resigned and would be leaving less than a week from my start date. When I got to the office for my first day, I was told that I would be taking on the office manager’s duties in addition to my own. That was a bit of an unexpected shock, as it is not at all what I signed up for and the position could not be further from my own professional interests. However, it’s a nonprofit and I’m willing to take one for the team. I got as much information as possible from the office manager before she left, but I am still feeling very unsure about this. I am not at all a financial person and suddenly that has become 80% of my job. There are no plans in place to hire an office manager, so it looks like this will become a permanent situation.

This morning, I came to work and found out that our receptionist (who worked very closely with the office manager) has just accepted another job offer and will be leaving in the next couple of weeks. So, within my first 8 days on the job, I have gone from doing 1 job to being expected to take on 3.

If I had known that from the beginning, I’m honestly not sure I would’ve accepted the position. I certainly would have asked for more money! I realize that some of the office manager’s duties are a natural fit, but most of what I have been doing is not even remotely related to the job description I was given.

I know you have said before that it’s bad form to ask for more money this early in the game, but I honestly feel that dumping an extra 2 jobs on someone in the first month is just as bad! So my question to you is whether or not this changes the “don’t ask for a raise right after starting just because you didn’t negotiate” rule and, if so, how to start the conversation. Any insight you can give me will be greatly appreciated!

Well, first, before you assume that this is going to be a permanent situation, find out for sure. Just because the office manager’s role isn’t being advertised doesn’t mean that they don’t intend to fill it — they might be moving more slowly than they should, or they might already have a candidate(s) in mind so they’re not advertising. And it doesn’t sound like you have any reason to think that they’re not going to fill the receptionist job. So the first thing to do is to find out what their plan is. Sit down with your manager and ask what the plans are for filling these two jobs, and what the likely timeline will be.

You might be told that they’re working to fill the positions and hope to have them filled within a couple of months. If that’s the case, I wouldn’t ask for a raise — at least not yet. While it’s going to be temporarily more and different work than what you signed on for, sometimes this stuff happens — and in entry-level roles in small nonprofits, it’s pretty common to be expected to help out where you’re needed. It’s appropriate to talk about compensation if it’s going to be long-term or permanent — but if it’s helping out for a few months, you pretty much just do it or you’d come across as culturally tone-deaf in most of these situations.

However, that doesn’t mean that you never end up getting compensated for it — rather, it’s a question of timing. Your ability to pinch-hit like this is exactly the type of thing you can cite in making a case for a raise down the road. (Generally after one year, except in very exceptional circumstances.) Not as in, “I did this so you should pay me extra,” but more, “Part of my value to the organization is my ability to step in when needed, take on different and additional work, and keep things running smoothly, as I did earlier this year when I filled in for Jane and Bob when they left.”

Now, if that’s not how it plays out — if instead you’re told that there aren’t any current plans to hire for these roles and the work is going to be part of your role for the foreseeable future — then you’d handle this differently. And how exactly you handle it depends on context I don’t have. More specifically…

If it’s a very small nonprofit, it might not be unreasonable to combine all three positions into one for the time being — I’ve certainly seen small organizations that have one person who handles all this stuff all on her own. It’s not inherently unworkable, if the organization is fairly small. That doesn’t mean that you want that job, and it’s not the job you signed up for, but as far as asking for more money goes, you’ve got to keep in mind that it’s possible that they’d be able to hire a single person covering all those areas for about the same as they’re paying you currently. If that’s the case, it’s going to be hard to make a strong case for a raise right now … but you could certainly revisit whether or not this is a position you want. (And if it’s not, then you have nothing to lose by asking for a raise, if you’re planning on leaving if you don’t get one anyway.)

But of course, there are also cases where it wouldn’t be reasonable to combine all three — due to the organization’s size, workload, and/or the expectations associated with each role. In that case, you could more feasibly ask for a higher salary to reflect the significantly changed responsibilities you’re taking on. The problem, though, is that as a fairly recent grad, you aren’t necessarily in a great position to know if this is one of those situations or not. (But if you have mentors who have some experience in the nonprofit sector, you might ask them for their opinion.)

Either way, though, the bigger issue is that you’re now stuck with a job you might not have signed up for if you’d known all this originally — at least not at this salary. If it’s short-term, then it’s just something to put up with. But if it’s long-term, go to your manager and say something like, “I’m glad to help out in covering these additional areas. But to be honest, if I’d known from the start that my job would include these responsibilities, I would have negotiated salary differently. Can we talk about adjusting my salary in order to reflect the new responsibilities I’m taking on?”

And one last thing, because it comes up here a lot: When three jobs are combined into one, it doesn’t mean that you’ll be doing the work of three people. You’ll be doing work from three different areas, yes, but not “the work of three people.” If three people were doing the work, there would be more work, it would be more in-depth, and there would be more responsibilities. I say this because people often use language like “the work of three people” in these situations, but it’s wrong and can lead you to make arguments that won’t hold water with your manager, so it’s important to think about it more clearly.

I want to be clear that I’m not minimizing what you’re being asked to do — you’re being asked to take on work you didn’t think you were signing up for, and it’s harder to keep track of three areas than one, even if the overall workload is about the same. But I do want to make sure that you’re thinking about this aspect of it clearly, so that when you talk to your manager, you don’t make arguments that she’ll be dismissing in her head. Good luck!

{ 76 comments… read them below }

  1. Mike C.*

    If it’s short term, why not ask to increase the salary in the short term based on the additional workload? I don’t see what’s so difficult or unreasonable about saying, “I’m being asked to take on a whole lot more than originally planned, therefore please increase my salary to reflect the increased workload and responsibility.”

    Two main reasons for this:
    1. The main “good” reasons to ask for a raise are because of increasing workload and responsibilities.
    2. The idea that “you’ll be rewarded later instead because you’ve shown you can pinch hit” doesn’t work for me. Too many people out there are being burned out due to having to take on way too much work for no additional compensation. What does the letter writer do if they go down this route and are then told, “No”?

    Furthermore, if these jobs are so small as to easily be rolled up, why was there a manager and an assistant there to begin with? Wouldn’t they have been let go (or never hired to begin with) if there wasn’t enough work to keep them employed?

    The job and it’s scope has changed considerably and it’s time to have a serious talk about responsibilities, expectations and compensation.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The problem with that is that it doesn’t reflect the reality of how most workplaces work (although it sounds totally reasonable in theory). In reality, approaching it that way in most workplaces comes with a high risk of souring the relationship and making the employer think they’d rather get someone who will pitch in when needed without asking for more money first — and potentially doing so, leaving the OP out of a job. (And that’s especially true in small nonprofits, which tend to run on few resources. If someone doesn’t like that, those environments are not for them.) Plenty of employers would respond to that with, “Sorry you feel that way, but this is the job now. If it’s not for you, let’s acknowledge that and decide on what your last day will be.”

      1. Mike C.*

        I respectfully take issue with your framing of this situation.

        First of all, the relationship has already been soured. Having one’s workload suddenly and significantly increase with no additional compensation is a huge change in employer/employee agreement and one that heavily favors the employer. The idea that they might not have the resources to increase the LW’s wages for the additional work is silly to me, because two other people are leaving. I’m not suggesting that the LW receive the entirety of their wages, but there should be a significant change, and the company still comes out ahead.

        Secondly, I don’t believe that the LW will risk their job simply for asking to have a serious conversation about taking on the work of three people. If so, then where would the org find someone to do the work of four people?

        Third, it’s only a common practice because employees don’t have (or believe they have) the leverage to make a request like this. And like many practices out there, just because everyone is doing it, doesn’t make it right and it doesn’t mean that things can’t be changed.

        Fourth, there are plenty of things instead of money that can be asked – flex time, work from home, subsidization of transport, a written action plan for hiring of replacements, etc etc. While I originally mentioned money, there are other ways to be compensated.

        At the heart of this, I really bristle at the idea that someone who isn’t willing to suddenly do the work of three people for an extended time without additional compensation somehow isn’t willing to “pitch in” or “be a team player” or what have you. How far does an employee have to go to prove themselves? It isn’t enough to do one job well, they must do three?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          But it’s not the work of 3 people, or even 2, as I wrote in the post. It’s one job that now works in 3 areas, which happens all the time without being an unreasonable workload. I’ve had plenty of jobs like that, and managed plenty of people who did. Number of areas you’re working in is a separate issue from workload.

          1. Lisa*

            Ok, so it isn’t the ‘work of 3 people’, but does the boss still expect the same ‘results / output of 3 people’ ?

            If its still only the same hours, but now 3 areas, ok fine. But too many times, there are bosses that expect the same results after downgrading 120 to 40 hours per week for all these tasks etc.

            1. -X-*

              ” but does the boss still expect the same ‘results / output of 3 people’ ?”

              What do you think? 3×8 hours=24 hours. Do you think the boss wants the same output?

              1. Lisa*

                Yeah, I do think the boss will ride this as long as OP will let him /her. OP should speak up now, before she has a breaking point.

        2. Consultant Liz*

          To address your last point – it never the work of three people – she is not suddenly going to start working 120 hours. She may work more hours than expected and she should take on the priority tasks from all the jobs. Best approach is to be explicit and transparent about it – list out all the tasks, highlight the ones she thinks are priority and can get done and propose to the management. Ability to re-prioritize workload and switch to new tasks is a “team player” ability.

          1. Mike C.*

            By three people, I mean three positions. I know there are things like synergy and whatnot, but there has to be a significant amount of additional work to be done because if there wasn’t, those two people would have already been let go.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Not always. Sometimes the manager was waiting for those people to leave, rather than firing them because their output was low (as Jamie mentioned somewhere else).

              1. Mike C.*

                So now we’re talking about a tiny non-profit with few resources and a manager that’s unwilling to fire unproductive people despite the need for those very resources the unproductive (yet somehow very financially involved) folks are taking up?

                1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

                  They also might not have been unproductive people. I’ve definitely heard of managers that seek to downsize through attrition; they’re willing to keep the person on for awhile, especially if they’re not well paid, but then just not re-filling the position when that person leaves. It could be that there really *isn’t* enough work for three people to do, and having three people is just a leftover of busier times.

        3. Christine*

          With all due respect to Alison, I agree with Mike, particularly on the last paragraph. I get that this stuff happens and I’m always willing to help where I am reasonably able, but I’d hate to come in all excited about starting a great new job only to find out that I’ll have to also take on someone else’s job that I have no experience or interest in.

        4. Joey*

          Asking first implies that you won’t do anything extra without extra pay. This for that. That’s not the attitude employers want. Besides, Id argue its a bit unreasonable to never expect to do extra work. People leave all of the time and with your acceptance of the job there comes an expectation that from time to time you’ll have to pitch in for times when there are vacancies. This one just happens to be before she’s proven herself in her own job.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Well, managers generally assume that it does. And this question isn’t about how things should work if we were building workplace conventions all over from scratch; it’s about what the OP can do to get the best results. Joey is absolutely right that this is how most managers perceive this type of thing.

              1. Anonymous*

                I think “pitching in” is not what’s being discussed here. Pitching in is helping cover gaps from time to time, to work extra to finish a big project, to jump on board to help a colleague….this is taking on potentially substantial new responsibilities for the same compensation.

                If managers perceive a very reasonable position that taking on more duties (with the caveat that these duties are permanent or at least long-term) should be accompanied by a discussion of altered compensation as entitled or unreasonable, then that’s just very sad. The “best results” in this case is not for the employee who is being saddled with a lot of extra work, but for the employer who can do this exactly because of the above set of assumptions on the part of management.

  2. Jamie*

    And one last thing, because it comes up here a lot: When three jobs are combined into one, it doesn’t mean that you’ll be doing the work of three people.

    Alison, I just want tot hank you for making this point. It’s a huge pet peeve of mine and I get this a lot because I have a role which, in some companies, would be filled by 3 people….but by no means does that imply that I’m putting in 120 hours a week or giving each segment full time attention.

    It means I have a weird enough skill set that I can juggle the big stuff for each segment at this point…but it’s a conscious decision to consolidate rather than having full time attention at each.

    When people leave and positions are cobbled together for the remaining employees it can sometimes result in too much on one plate…that’s when you go in and have a conversation about priorities and so many hours in a week. But I’ve seen some overloaded people in my day, including myself and have never known anyone to truly be doing the work of 2-3 people.

    1. Eric*

      Short term I have seen people work 1.5-2 people. There was a critical role that was empty, and 2 people split the job each working 65-70 hour weeks for a month and a half while the role was being filled.

      1. Jamie*

        Sure – I think a lot of people have short term issues where they are pulling 70+ hours a week (and 55-60 is typical in my industry on average anyway).

        IMO if people step up during times like you’re describing that then that should be remembered come bonus time.

        I was more referring to the consolidation of roles where the departing employee isn’t’ replaced – their tasks are just absorbed. It’s never going to be a full on assumption of another entire ft job – things are restructured and priorities assessed.

        And if people do start down the slippery slope there is nothing unprofessional about discussing with your boss what’s on your plate and coming up with a game plan so the priorities are taken care of without you careening towards burnout.

        1. Mike C.*

          IMO if people step up during times like you’re describing that then that should be remembered come bonus time.

          Yeah, that’s what I thought. Then my last boss decided to buy from more fine art for his house instead. How do I know? We all took a tour of it during the Christmas party. If I wanted to see a Dali, I would have gone to the art museum.

    2. Josh S*

      Agreed.

      But while it’s problematic to say, “I’m doing the work of 3 people,” when 2 positions have been cut and rolled into a 3rd, it’s much less problematic to say, “I’m handling the responsibilities of 3 positions.” Because it’s true. You’re not handling those responsibilities in an in-depth way the way 3 separate people working 3 separate positions would do, but you’re definitely handling them.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Things change. Sometimes a project or client went away. Sometimes the organization has fewer resources and needs to re-prioritize things, or realizes that by cutting a few pieces of something, they can get nearly as much bang with far less work associated with it. All kinds of things change like that.

      2. Jamie*

        Could be for any number of reasons. I’ve seen people who seemed swapped with their work load replaced once they leave, and the new hire mastered that job and was asking for more work to keep them occupied. Different levels of efficiency.

        Most often though – if a job has 20 tasks and 8 are mission critical and 12 are nice if we have time…well the 8 get absorbed and the 16 get shelved or cut way back. A lot of time positions have many extraneous duties in them that once reevaluated can be cut or changed, or delegated to a team of temps brought in every so often.

        I know other people have different experiences, but most of the places I’ve worked are reluctant to fire anyone unless cause was above and beyond what was tolerable. I have never worked anywhere where if you could consolidate Jane’s role and give it to Bob and Wakeen that Jane would be shown the door. More likely that Jane would get more busy work which may or may not add value to the company and could be easily cut if Jane leaves.

        1. Mike C.*

          Yes, people do have different experiences. My experience tells me that people get fired without anyone else being told, and that others are expected to pick up all of their duties while remaining on time with all of theirs. This whole “prioritization” and shifting things around and getting around to hiring more people doesn’t happen in many places.

          Sure, my current place of employment is great about this – if we do a ton of work on a special project then we’re rewarded and that’s why I’m here. I don’t mind working hard knowing that I’ll be compensated for it. But I know too many times people being taken advantage of, and that’s why I am so suspicious.

          One bitten, twice shy right?

          1. QualityControlFreak*

            This has been my experience as well. And I was working for a giant multinational (and very much for profit) corporation. Now I work for a small nonprofit, but they still managed to slip in an extra job for no extra pay – for years. I actually had to ask if they wanted me to stop doing the second job before I got any increase whatsoever, and then it was so tiny it was more of an insult than anything else.

  3. PEBCAK*

    Because the OP can’t really do the work of 3 people, it may also be a good idea to get out in front of what the new priorities are, if that hasn’t been discussed yet with the manager.

    For example: “When Bill was the receptionist, he answered all calls within three rings. Obviously, answering phones interrupts my work on reconciling receipts, so do you prefer that I let things go into voicemail on occasion, or that the reconciliation may be done by the 7th workday instead of the 5th each month?”

  4. Just a Reader*

    I would probably quit, or start the job hunt ASAP if this wasn’t meant to be temporary. Feels like a bait & switch plus the fact that the OP had to find out from someone other than the person who hired her–bad signs.

    Early in my career, I was bait and switched at a “marketing coordinator” job (turned out that it was code for “receptionist”–wildly different), and it was a very miserable time. I was resentful and hated the work, and wished I had walked on my first day and kept looking.

    1. Christine*

      Ha! Sounds like a job I had in 2000. I was given the impression that I’d be doing data entry along with some phone work. Turned out I was the receptionist. Hated every nanosecond of it–cried just about every day after work. I lasted all of 2.5 weeks (they ended up letting me go). Being let go really stinks, but you have no idea the difference in how I felt–I was at peace for the first time in what felt like forever.

      1. Just a Reader*

        Mine was in 2000 also! I made it to the 6 month mark and then quit after I was reprimanded for mentioning that I’d like to take on more responsibility.

    2. Chava*

      This happened to me as well; I was young and really needed the job, so I went along with it. I wouldn’t make that mistake again, but it did teach me the need to set boundaries with an employer.

  5. Rob Bird*

    I would take one for the team. Because you are a rather new employee, you are an unknown variable in their company. They need to see what skills and abilities you have and how they fit into these three different rolls.

    The fact that they had you do it is a good sign. Show them what you are able to do and who knows; maybe there will be a promotion at the end of this.

    1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I agree with this. I think it’s also important to remember that when people are quitting, it’s a chaotic situation for an employer, and sometimes they don’t deal with it as well as we’d like, sometimes it’s slow, etc. But one thing that WILL make it worse is someone you were hoping would come through in a pinch suddenly talking like they’ll quit if you don’t give them a raise to cover this short-term situation (and when you ask for a raise, the implication is always that you could quit if an accord isn’t reached).

      Even if it is a totally reasonable request, asking it at a time where there’s a lot of uncertainty is a great way to get a raise conversation off on the wrong foot.

      1. OP*

        Good point! I certainly wouldn’t quit over this (at least not for another year or two), but I suppose my manager has no way of knowing that. Thanks Kimberlee!

        1. JohnQPublic*

          I wouldn’t quit, nor would I make the case for extra money… YET.
          First, ask about the timeline for filling those positions. Ask in a manner that assumes they are going to replace them, and state that you’re fine with covering for those positions for a few weeks while they hire new people. It’s quite possible that this is just a momentary thing. Follow up by asking about priorities of tasks, and who you should go to in case you get backed up or have questions.
          Your next step is to see how they respond. If they are going to hire people, great! You’re a team player and look good. If not, that’s when you address the fact that the job you applied for is no longer the job you’ve been given. Then you say something like, “While I don’t expect to do 120 hours of work or get paid as if I am three people, I would like to speak with you about the new responsibilities of this position and what this new position would be paid. I’m excited about the opportunity and I’d like to see if this would be a good fit for me.” Treat it like they offered you a job (because that’s what they did)- this is a brand new, different job from what you applied for and accepted. It’s so substantially different that you really need to evaluate whether you want it. What if the extra duties require time you don’t have, travel you can’t undertake, etc? These are legitimate questions and you need time to ask and think about them.
          If its going to be temporary, make sure you get a timeline. Ask what happens if it goes beyond what they say it will. The best time to think about this and ask is now, not three months down the road when you’re tearing your hair out :) or regretting not asking for more.

  6. The Other Dawn*

    If I were the OP, I would pitch in without complaint and do my best. But, I would also have a conversation with my boss as to what I felt I could handle comfortably and reasonably,and what should be handled by someone else. I wouldn’t be afraid to speak up.

    In terms of compensation, I don’t think asking for more pay is the way to go right now, unless it turns out that all these responsibilities are now a permanent part of OP’s job.

    1. -X-*

      Pitch in. Work a sustainable amount of hours (for what you guess is the time period – say a few months). If it was me, it could be 55 or 60 hours for the first week or two, making it clear this was just to get up to speed. Then 50 max for subsequent weeks (assuming I was expecting to be working 40-45ish hour weeks). I can’t handle more. Let everything noncritical slide. If the boss complains, suggest getting a temp or making hiring the top priority.

      I can do 70 for one week every few months.

      1. Jamie*

        This is a good plan – although it makes me think. I can do 70 every so often too…but not if phones were involved.

        If I had to do a 70 hour week while doing the phones…I wouldn’t last time EOB Tuesday. Phones are freaking hard…and they make me feel hectic in a way no IT problem ever could.

        1. Chinook*

          i agree 100% -answering phones all creates a completely different work environment and stress level. when i worked reception during tax season at an accounting firm, my nerves were fried by the end of the day due to the constant noise and interruption Even thought the 2 of us doing it were perfectly insync, it was the noise that had us so on edge that we would often send the other outside for a breath of fresh air (and noise break) when we could sense the other was about to snao.

      2. CH*

        I would have guessed from the description that this position is non-exempt, so the OP should not be working overtime unless the company is willing to pay overtime. Rather the OP should be prioritizing what can get done in 40 hours per week.

  7. Christine*

    Aside from everything else said, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is an increasingly common thing in smaller nonprofits given scarce resources. At one place I volunteer, the case manager took on office manager duties when the previous office manager cut back her hours due to health issues. I think the executive assistant left at about the same time too. So this woman does case management, office management, volunteer management….I have no idea how this woman has kept her sanity.

  8. Jamie*

    In re-reading this I think there is another reason not to ask for more money now.

    Phones.

    For whatever reason people seem to think phones can just be absorbed by whomever, but they are so disruptive and take a ton of time (not to mention broken focus) that after a day or two they start scouting for someone new to handle phones.

    That’s one task I think is really, really hard to merge with more focus oriented work.

    So either way it’s premature since the OP doesn’t even know if they will replace the receptionist and they could easily replace her with someone who might absorb some of the OM jobs as well. Not to mention having only worked there a month and this all being in a state of flux there is no way yet to know if the OP will do the changed job description well enough to warrant more money.

    You always want to go into salary negotiations with actual ammo in the form of out of the ballpark performances…not based on what you might or might not do in the future.

    I see this as a huge opportunity – some people have to wait a while for the chance to prove themselves and this is a way to get a lot of experience and make a case for more money…and if you decide to leave for another job getting financial skills, even against your will, can only help. Accounting is the language of business – everyone should know the basics.

  9. Socksberg*

    The more I read about how things work at non-profits, the more confused about them I get. I get that working for a company you strongly believe in for a cause you support makes up for a lot, but if the expectation at non-profits is that one person does the work of three for no additional compensation, and that’s normal, then I wonder how people can afford to commit so much time and energy to a job that doesn’t pay appropriately.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If you’re committed to the mission of the organization and care about seeing it achieve its goals, and if it’s well-run and you believe it’s using its resources appropriately, then many people are thrilled for the opportunity to be in a position to help achieve those goals, even if it means working harder than they might somewhere else. I’ve worked 65-70-hour weeks before when I cared about what my work was going to make happen.

      That’s not for everyone, of course. But it’s for some people.

      That said, the italicized portion above is key. If you don’t have that, then there’s no point.

      And it’s also worth noting that not every nonprofit runs this way. It’s more common in smaller and less-well-funded ones. If you want to pass Law X, repeal Legislation Y, or make social change Z, you might not be willing to let low funding stop you — you might be willing to work harder/longer to make up for your low funding.

      Again, some people. Not all.

    2. Legal Eagle*

      This is why I have no intention of ever working for a non-profit. My mother did and watching her made me realize it’s not for me. Her organization was well-run and she cared about the goal so it was worth it for her, but I don’t want to be stressed/overworked without being well-compensated. I would rather work at a for-profit entity, donate to organizations I care about, and volunteer often.

      1. Anonymous*

        I work for a nonprofit and am stressed a lot, but not overworked. Or at least I don’t allow myself to be – 40-45 hour weeks usually – but a 50 every few months, and one or two 60s a year). And decent compensation – just into six figures at mid-career with good benefits, though that’s in NYC where things are expensive.

        People with similar education to mine who went private sector tend to make more though, so sometimes I have regrets.

    3. The gold digger*

      how people can afford to commit so much time and energy to a job that doesn’t pay appropriately.

      Because it had been six years since they were last employed and this is the only job they can get.

      But after a year, they will be looking for something new to get back to their old salary.

    4. Kou*

      Well, lots of caveats here. Plenty of them pay appropriately. And while you may where more hats at a nonprofit, it’s not standard to just hire one person to fill three places. Nonprofits will have a smaller staff in that you don’t get a single support staffer for every single duty– and even then, the larger ones will. My last (small) research institute had everyone doing their own figure prep and whatnot, my new (very large) one has a person whose job is to handle those things. We even have a staff photographer for just my department. It varies.

      All things you could get at any well-run for-profit company, you can get in the nonprofit sector as well. Just like anywhere, you have to pick the employer that has what you want.

  10. Meg Murry*

    One thing I noted was that the OP mentioned an increase in $/hr – I do think OP needs to ask whether she should put in extra hours beyond 40 to handle absorbing tasks of the vacant positions (and again, since she mentioned $/hr, with overtime paid as per the law of her area). Most places want overtime to be pre-approved, so OP needs to discuss with her manager whether she is expected to work as many hours as it takes to get the jobs done or whether she has to figure out how to fit it all into 40 hours.

  11. Bagworm*

    Another thing to keep in mind when asking for a raise for taking on additional duties is the sustainability of doing that extra work. I know people have mentioned that additional duties might be sustainable for a limited amount of time but if they adjust your pay rate, they are much more likely to expect you to keep those duties for an extended period of time (possibly forever). That might not be realistic even if you are willing to do the job with additional compensation.

  12. CEMgr*

    I agree strongly with Jamie that phones (and let’s include visitors, deliveries etc.) and all other urgent interrupt-driven tasks are some of the hardest duties to combine with other work. Even if there are only (?) e.g. 8 interrupts an hour, each interrupt takes 1-5 minutes and then the time to refocus after the interrupt means the person may quite literally have no time to be on focused tasks for hours or days on end. And that person will never have the gift of even 1 solid hour without an interrupt. Makes me frazzled just thinking about it.

  13. Anonymous*

    OP, any way of figuring out why those 2 coworkers left? (Possibly 3: did anyone hold your role before you?) That might give you a big clue as to what kind of treatment you can expect.

    And there’s another possibility Alison doesn’t mention: your boss will lie or make vague promises or string you along, to get you to put in that extra pinch hitting effort, but you won’t ever receive any compensation or recognition for it.

    1. OP*

      I do know why they left and it’s not anything that would be a huge indicator of future problems. I am the first person in my position, so I don’t have a point of reference for the boundaries of my position (probably one reason it was so easy to hand over the other roles to me).

  14. Toast*

    In connecting this post with the earlier post on multitasking from today, what happens if the LW happily pitches in but does a poor job in all three positions? That seems likely if LW has little prior experience in executing the tasks of the other two positions.

  15. Chocolate Teapot*

    I’m wondering whether the Receptionist has followed the Office Manager to her new job?

    Anyway, I would be wanting to clarify the situation. It may very well be that a new Receptionist and/or Office Manager is in the process of being appointed and the situation is temporary. (A lot of smaller offices I know have one person who is both).

  16. OP*

    Hi everyone! OP here. Thank you all so much for your comments! I really appreciate the feedback.

    My thought process initially was very similar to what Mike C posted, but as Alison pointed out, I don’t want to sour the relationship with my manager. I really do like her and I feel that she could be a good person to work with in the long run.

    Alison, your point re: 1 job in 3 areas as opposed to 3 jobs is well taken. I hadn’t really thought of it that way, but it does make me feel better! However, I am still expected to handle approximately 85-90% of the Office Manager responsibilities and 100% of the receptionist position, as well as the position I was hired for. Also, as many people have realized, I am in fact non-exempt and overtime is not allowed. At this point, I’m torn between appreciation of the protection provided by my non-exempt status and a desire to work more than 40 hours to complete my assigned tasks. I’m doing my best to prioritize and it seems to be going fairly well, but I don’t know if it’s sustainable. My manager values autonomy, which I generally appreciate, but I could really use more input from her.
    I have spoken with my manager about replacing the Office Manager and Receptionist. The Office Manager position is gone for good, but there is talk of hiring a new Receptionist. However, this will not happen until at least July 2014. The sequestration and our small operating budget have made the upcoming fiscal year a tough one and we just hired several positions (including mine).

    PEBCAK: I love your suggestion, but unfortunately I am not allowed to let calls roll to voicemail due to the nature of our work—some of our callers require immediate assistance and there’s no way to know when those calls will happen, so essentially I would just end up checking the voicemail after every call anyway.

    Just a Reader: It definitely feels like a bait & switch and I’m still a little upset about it, but I love the organization and mission, so I am going to stick it out for at least a year or two. As Jamie pointed out, I am gaining very valuable experience, even if it’s not what I expected!

    Rob Bird: Regarding the issue of being an “unknown quantity,” I have volunteered extensively across all areas of the organization for nearly 2 years, which is a big part of why I got this job. I do love your positivity regarding the possibility of a future promotion (fingers crossed)!

    As Jamie and Chinook pointed out, the phones are the biggest problem. I honestly think I would be ok with all of this if I wasn’t also the acting receptionist. For one thing, I’m not a phone person to begin with. For another, it’s absolutely true that answering the phones/accepting deliveries/dealing with mail/making copies takes a HUGE chunk of my time—CEMgr is right about that! Unfortunately, as I mentioned, we won’t be hiring a new receptionist for at least another year.

    Toast: That is probably my biggest fear at this point. I have been very honest with my manager about my lack of experience and she has been patient with me so far, but I am still concerned about how this will play out in the future. After all, I’m still new to the position and I’m guessing that (as with any job) my responsibilities will increase as time goes on. For now it seems to be ok, though—overwhelming, certainly, but ok.

    Sorry this was so incredibly long! Apparently I had a lot to say.

    1. Jamie*

      Unfortunately, as I mentioned, we won’t be hiring a new receptionist for at least another year.

      This is ridiculous. Before people combine ft phones with any other job requiring focus they should be forced to do it themselves for a day. And I really don’t think this is my own crazy bias against the phones (which I have – I hate them – but I certainly do my share when our OM is out of the office because it’s part of pitching in). I think it’s more than just my own issues.

      Phones are not an afterthought or some inconsequential ancillary task – they are a constant interruption which require focus of it’s own to do properly.

      I don’t know – AA/OM…there is a lot of overlap there and either one can manage the phones if the other duties were light…but quite frankly as someone who deals with financials I don’t want the person doing them distracted by the damn phone and door all day long.

      Thank goodness you aren’t yet exempt. Here’s what I would do if I were you: come in each day and kick as much ass as I am capable of kicking for 8 hours and if anything is said about what isn’t getting done then ask my manager to help me prioritize this because logic dictates there are only so many hours in the day and the phones need to be answered. Be a partner in solving the problem, but don’t be a martyr and save them from their own bad decisions by working unpaid OT – never, ever work off the books.

      If they don’t hire a new receptionist or start allowing voice mail then they aren’t addressing the problem – then just soak up as much knowledge as you can and take it with you to a better run org.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        One thing I’d add is that you shouldn’t wait to see if someone says something about you not getting everything done — raise it proactively: “Here’s what I’m finding I can get to in a 40-hour week so that you’re not paying me overtime. Here’s what’s not getting done. Would you like me to prioritize anything differently?”

          1. OP*

            Thank you both! Jamie, I’ve got to say–I’ve been reading the blog for a while now and your comments are always on point. I love it when you weigh in. Thank you :)

      2. Anonymous*

        Exactly. Don’t be a martyr. Not hitting someone to man the phone or splitting the responsibility with other people is a recipe for disaster.

  17. Lily*

    I’m very late, but I would still like to make a comment. Alison is right about roles versus positions and I would like to add that the amount of work can expand and shrink incredibly! I have hired someone to take over a portion of my work to discover that they are not able to finish it in 3 times the time. Of course, getting used to the job takes time, but starting out is not a great time to independently decide to offer customers your own version of premium service and then decide that you don’t have time to do the duties you were hired to do. When this person left, the work came back to me and shrank again. At the moment, the time constraint does mean that I am somewhat unhappy with the quality, but it is still doable.

  18. Dan*

    I completely understand the situation. It happened to me before, and I have taken on a workload of 3-4 people and in last year I worked 3890 clocked hours. When I became an executive I decided to change this and if things like this happen we’d be prepared to deal with it. So we created an “emergency fund” in the business. Not too long after I assumed a position of an executive two of my “right hand” employees decided to relocate overseas and next up in line had to cover for them. We have increased their income for the “time being” as we didn’t want him to feel exploited. After we found right candidates, we sent the guy and his family for a 4 day trip to one of the best Canadian ski-resorts, all inclusive. This is totally up to employer how they value their staff, and I think it’s very selfish from most of employers to just expect someone to take on the roll without any compensation. No one is married to the job, and if it is it can always file for a divorce and go elsewhere. We’ve all been employees at some point of time, and we should understand this and involve a sense of responsibility. If the employee is worth it, the company won’t go down over 2.000 as they can have as a tax write off anyways. There are way to work around it only if employers want to do so.

  19. W.W.A.*

    Something like this happened to me in my last job. I joined a team of three people, and I had some experience in each of the other two people’s areas of responsibility. Within three months one of them had resigned and my boss told me I would be taking on her responsibilities now. Three months later, the other one resigned. We were theoretically going to replace her but that took 18 months and I was de facto doing her job.

    You’re right that I didn’t literally do the work of three people, but I literally had three people’s financial goals to meet (which I did) and three people’s broad and distinct areas to cover in my work. It was horrible. Shortly after the second person quit, the organization instituted a wage freeze, which I worked under for the next three years before I finally left.

  20. Anonymous*

    Receptionists – this is an organization with a cadre of volunteers (viz the OP). It’s time to recruit & train a team who can cover at least a portion of reception duties. You may not get all day every day covered, but if you could get half days on a regular schedule that would help a lot. Lots of nonprofits use volunteers for front desk coverage. A good directory of who handles what helps, along with a more general manual. I’d bet you could get some help from current volunteers while a recruitment & training process is implemented.

    In the meantime, if you can find a way to track the amount of time you spend on reception duties that will help buttress the suggestion.

    Sounds like you’ve got a great attitude. Good luck!

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