my company cut our pay after we met our goals and says we shouldn’t be upset

A reader writes:

I work in a position that is the butt of a sales organization. I don’t mind it, but I don’t make a ton and deal with a lot of nonsense.

On Thursday, they called a meeting for me and the six other people or so in my position and spent 30 minutes telling us how bad the economy is, how bad sales currently are, and how our team “loses money for the company.”

But that isn’t true. We surpassed our goals, even the lofty one investors didn’t think we would hit (which included doubling our revenue in a single calendar year). It was not a small feat. All because of my team and another team we work with.

I thought they would perhaps restructure our plan but they just straight-up cut our pay, equivalent to about $3-6k per year, which is not a small amount of money!

They were too afraid to tell us as a group, so they pulled us aside individually. We all checked with each other after and we all got the same exact pay cut.

Whenever we try to speak to our bosses about it, they just tell us it’s normal for goals to change every year. But none of us are upset about the goals changing, we’re upset about being paid less for more work.

When I confronted my boss about it, she told me it’s only $250 a month. But we’re not even paid well to start with! If it is only $250 a month, then why did they remove it at all if it’s such a small amount of number to her? We’re already paid $10k below the industry average for our position.

All our bosses got promotions and raises because we hit our goals. They also told us the pay cut was to ensure that we did not have to fire anyone, but as recently as new year’s, they hired another person for a position we weren’t even hiring for — he’s a friend of the boss.

Furthermore … the entire company got bonuses, some deep into the five figure range. The reason given is because the sales team exceeded their goal. We were excluded from this bonus. It was paid out the same day our pay cuts were announced.

I don’t have a single drop of motivation to ever put any extra effort in this job ever again. Is this normal? I feel like I’m going crazy. They’re gaslighting us, right?

I feel like my trust has been violated. Our bosses kept telling us we would cool down after a few days, but today is day 3 and I’m probably angrier than I’ve ever been. Sales involves dealing with things outside of work hours, doing a lot of research effort on my own, and we don’t really have anyone supporting us and we took a pay cut. It’s beyond a slap in the face.

I feel like they are using the recent large layoffs to scare us, but we aren’t those companies. They paid out bonuses and gave promotions, while cutting our pay.

Just tell me this isn’t normal? And what should I be doing moving forward? Most of us want to quit but our bosses are trying to proceed like everything is normal. Our output cut by almost 70% since the announcement, but I know some people are going to go back to normal because they don’t have any other choice. But I don’t want to.

It’s not normal, and it’s not okay.

Your company is lying to you, and your managers are trying to confuse you about what’s really happening.

To be clear, there are times when companies genuinely do need to cut pay. It’s a really big deal, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. Generally companies that have to do that understand it’s a big deal and risks destroying morale, and they’d usually try to be more thoughtful about the optics of cutting pay at the same time that they’re awarding bonuses, creating a position for the boss’s friend, or giving your managers promotions and raises because the team getting its pay lowered hit their goals.

It’s also BS that when you’re upset about a pay cut (which is a very normal thing for people to be upset about, even in circumstances where it’s necessary), they’re responding by telling you it’s normal for goals to change. They’re intentionally missing the point so they don’t have to engage with what you’re actually saying.

So yes, it is both normal and reasonable that you’ve lost your motivation to put in extra effort for this job. People put in extra effort when they trust their company. They stop doing that when they see their company is screwing them over. They really stop doing it when they see that extra effort not only won’t be rewarded but will be met with slashed pay.

As for what to do: Look around and see what else is out there. Meanwhile, it’s smart to do enough to keep your job, but they’ve clearly signaled that there’s no value in doing more than that.

{ 322 comments… read them below }

    1. Artemesia*

      I know of similar cases over the years where friends were told, doX and you will get a big bonus and then the X was done, the profits skyrocketed, and they were told ‘no bonus for you, no profits’. when in fact they. had just taken those profits to give a huge signing bonus to a newly hired CEO (who had nothing to do with achieving X).

      Absolutely begin a serious job search even moving cities if you can do that with your family if there is nothing near by. It is still a pretty good market for job seekers most places. Don’t jump without consideration — but be open to new options. And in the meantime, work to rule — do what you must, be a pleasure to work with, but don’t bust your butt for the company.

      1. Justme, The OG*

        I worked sales and our managers would get the bonuses when we exceeded goal. It was awful.

      2. Former retail chipmunk*

        This happened to me even in a retail job. I was brand new and it was a holiday rush, and they gave us a basket of random items from the store and told us to up-sell them on to every purchase. They talked about how if we sold all of the items would be getting some sort of bonus. I was new and eager to please so I took it seriously.

        Once I had sold the items, I told the manager I had completed my basket and he said “okay,” and took the basket away. There was no bonus, no praise, not even a word of acknowledgement beyond that. It was just a straight up lie.

        1. Hymnotic*

          The one and only time I worked in retail, the staff was told by the store owner that we could pool together anything that a grateful customer might add above and beyond their total (we sold some specialized and uncommon products, and occasionally an especially grateful customer would want to reward us for our expertise and assistance).

          Maybe six months in, I learned the owner was, among other things, helping themself to that money. I gave them my notice and landed a much better-paying job within weeks.

      3. old curmudgeon*

        Darned tooting! That is all too common, and the only thing you can do is to get the heck out of Dodge and take your skills to a company that appreciates (and will pay for) them.

        My younger kid, a business analyst who at the time was being paid about 30% below market rates, busted his butt to help get a two-year project complete and implemented in under four months, and the company made literally hundreds of millions in revenue as a result. His reward? The company sent him a cheap little bell with a note that said “thanks for all you do, ring this bell and pat yourself on the back!”

        Younger kid promptly went on an intense job hunt, and landed a far better position within a couple of months. Then he videoed himself tossing that stupid bell in the trash, and posted the video to his socials on the day he put in his resignation.

        In a lovely little coda, he heard from his former company about eight months later saying literally “Name your price, we’ll pay whatever you want, just come back to work for us.” That was nearly two years ago now, and he’s still laughing about it.

        Get out, OP, use the metrics from your hard work in your resume and application materials, and get paid what you’re worth. And please update us when that happens so we can cheer you on!

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          “Congratulate yourself because we can’t be bothered. Wait, where are you going?”

      4. Random Biter*

        When I was slinging hash for a living I was working at a nicer restaurant (think better than Denny’s but not Four Seasons). The owners of the chain wanted the servers to ask their customers to purchase raffle tickets to support a museum. All well and good but the museum wasn’t anywhere close to our city and we were forbidden to bring in any type of sales thing (Girl Scout cookies, school fundraisers, etc.) for our area. On top of that, only the managers received a bonus (probably pitiful, but something is better than nothing), not the people who were being *required* to harass our tips source to buy these tickets. After much discussion amongst the staff it was decided that we all needed to nope outta that. We’d carry the stupid tickets around all shift but never tried to sell them. Yeah, our managers were less than pleased but they couldn’t prove we weren’t asking without confronting customers.

    2. Jules the 3rd*

      Run away, and get that $10K raise from another company!

      BTW, “Contributed to team’s 100% YTY revenue increase” is a Very Nice line on a resume. You’re leaving ‘to explore new opportunities’, but you’d be happy to refer other members of that old, high-achieving team to any new company that would treat them well.

      1. crchtqn2*

        When working in sales, always put numbers in your resume and Linked In. Even if your just a team member, not a salesperson.

        “Part of BLANK team that sold over XX Million over XX number of years.”

        Sales is all about the numbers.

      2. Hannah Lee*


        And the “butt of the sales organization” bit resonated with me.
        It’s a shady (and often short sighted) thing that companies do, tagging part of the sales organization – sometimes sales support or lead generation or inside sales in that role, treating them like a cost center, expense line item that can be whittled away instead of recognizing and compensating them as key contributors to the sales that get added to the tallies of the big-wigs. Meanwhile the big-wigs get all the spiffs and perks and big ole bonuses.

        LW, this isn’t going to get better. They are treating your team like dirt because they can, they aren’t ever going to see you or treat you as a valued team member, they don’t WANT to do the right thing. They will just keep shifting the goal posts and trying to gaslight you when you point to the reality of what they are doing. Month after month, quarter after quarter, year after year.

        Take those quantified results, % of goals exceeded, % of YTY revenue increase, gross sales increase, update your resume and start looking for a new, better place that isn’t going to lie to you or cheat you on promised compensation, giving you and your co-workers the dregs while others get the cream.

        In the meantime, they’ve demonstrated that any extra effort you put in will not get you anything, so take Alison’s point – do what you need to keep your job there, but no any extra.

        1. Miette*

          Seconded! They’ve demonstrated they do not value your team’s contribution, OP, and they never will. Do as I don’t doubt your teammates are and begin a job search now. You should all get out of there as soon as you can.

    3. Anon Again... Naturally*

      Seconded. At my last job, they made all the staff (across the board) take pay cuts. I found out shortly afterwards that all of the executives and most of the directors got pay raises, along with some of their cronies. I started looking right away, and got out six months later.

      Almost a year to the day after I got out, the company was declared insolvent and there were multiple lawsuits for mismanagement against the upper ranks. Hopefully that won’t happen at your company, but get out anyway. They have shown you they don’t value your team or your hard work.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        Quietly pack up your desk and move on to your next opportunity.
        As you and your peers interview be sure to share it is because the company is going through financial difficulties.
        “but they reported X% increase. their press releases state record breaking sales.”
        And you, OP (and your peers) state honestly that you can’t speak to that. Although you and your peers did X, Y and Z to make that happen, you and your team were given pay cuts because of a business wide financial need.

    4. LTR FTW*

      Please quit en masse ASAP! Without your team they won’t be pulling in those bonuses. Hit them where it hurts!!!

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        In my AAM fanfic, all of the folks who got a pay cut just stop working at all while the bosses who got raises flounder trying to get everything done. If OP and their coworkers were to do this, they would be MY HEROES.

        But in the meantime, OP, find yourself a new, better-paying job with a company that respects their workers and eff this company all the way.

        1. Properlike*

          I imagine a “soft strike” where they do the minimum possible because “you said we were a drain and gave everyone else bonuses but us, even though we did all the extra x,y,z that led to the revenue increase.”

          “Work to rule.” Only do exactly what they pay you for. Really, really slowly. Shouldn’t make any difference to operations, right?

          1. Glen*

            Jack London once wrote that a worker who does the same work for less or more work for the same is scabbing on other workers. I would love to see people return to that idea (with the caveat of course that some of “the same” or “more” needn’t be wages)

        2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          In my version, one of OP’s group does not need this job or any other.
          S/he begins job searching with all of EvilCorp’s clients and vendors, explaining that the recent pay cut across the department due to financial issues within the company are forcing her/him to look outside EvilCorp. for opportunities.
          The cover letter continues, explaining that even after increasing sales by 100% (clearly identifying his/her own parts in this) the company did not have/maintain the financial stability needed to support this department.
          Because, to quote Kenan Thompson, “I’m Gen X. I just like to sit back and watch the world burn.”

            1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

              He rocks. So made the network replaced his “nice dad” show with “jerk dad” show.

    5. MadCatter*

      For real, OP, run as fast as you can. They are never going to value you and your team. Not only do they clearly not value your work, they aren’t offering you even basic respect as people and are gaslighting you all. Hopefully you, and the rest of your team, find something better soon – but you should absolutely be looking right now.

    6. I have RBF*

      Seriously. GTFO!

      They have told you in absolute, concrete term that they don’t value you and would fire you if they thought they didn’t need you, so they’re gaslighting you instead.

      Quiet quit/work to rule, and leave as soon as you get a better offer.

    7. Momma Bear*

      Absolutely. I think the entire team should be looking and leave en masse. They’re trying to justify the unjustifiable, as if you wouldn’t notice. They are cowardly and there is nothing preventing them from firing you for not meeting their new expectations. You met that goal. They moved the goalpost. Find another field to play on.

      1. Wonderer*

        I wonder if the company really is going down in flames and they are just all sucking out whatever bonuses they can before it collapses?

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      The “we were told we’d cool down after a few days” had me seeing red! They are telling their workforce, flat out, “you’ll take anything we dish out.” That’s not even gaslighting at that point; it’s setting them on fire and going oh, you’ll turn to a crispy hulk in few days and not notice anymore.

      1. Marzipan Shepherdess*

        That got me, too! Did they think that their mistreated employees’ mortgage and utilities’ companies would “cool down” their billing and happily lower THEIR charges to accommodate those employees’ lowered salaries? And just how oblivious do you have to be to think that knocking $250 off of someone’s monthly pay is a trivial matter?!

        Many affluent / well-paid people seem to be utterly unaware of what it’s like to have to live on a lower salary (and minus a trust fund!) and toss off blithely callous comments that only show how completely out of touch they really are. Chances are that the cotton-brains running this company will only wake up to reality when the LW and their highest-producing colleagues all leave for greener pastures – which I hope they do ASAP!

        1. NotRealAnonforThis*


          That’s ONLY a car payment
          That’s ONLY my employee contribution to health care
          That’s ONLY one of my kids’ orthodontia monthly payments
          That’s ONLY a week of groceries

          Only my left arsecheek.

          1. PayCutOP*

            I have a special needs dog and a lot of my money goes towards her. They know this. I do not regret it at all — but her insurance premium is $1k annually, with a $250 deductible. Her specialty food costs $105 for 17.7 pounds and I have to mix two varieties together. She takes expensive meds.

            I fully recognize that my dog is my problem and my problem only. But $250 a month is probably fairly close to how much she costs (I was budgeting $300 a month for awhile, actually, so that’s probably closer!)

            I had been planning on getting a second pup for awhile and I just saw it evaporate when they cut our pay. My bosses are well aware of my pup and her expenses (my boss has a high maintenance, special needs pet herself), so I think it just added to my rage. At the end of my pay cut meeting, they even asked me how she was doing! I couldn’t get over the audacity.

    1. MauvaisePomme*

      Yes, LW, please tell this story on Glass Door! Prospective employees looking into this company down the line deserve to know what kind of environment they could be walking into.

      1. Miette*

        Especially the ones that will be interviewing the jobs vacated by you and your colleagues! While I don’t think you should name names, I’d absolutely name the dept. and the positions whenever you feel you can safely do it, so there’s no ambiguity for the interviewees.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Especially valuable for warning off younger/less experienced employees who may not know going in how badly and baldly they’re going to be used and thrown aside. This company reeks of “hire Bright Young Things and drain their souls.”

        2. HeraTech*

          Glassdoor will not let you name names. When leaving one job, I tried to name and shame a toxic executive and had to edit my post before they would allow it to be published.

    2. Agile Phalanges*

      Small correction: unless OP is able to be anonymous, I’d hold that Glassdoor review until AFTER OP has secured other employment so they aren’t fired in retaliation.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Yup – New Job first and then Glassdoor review. Don’t put your job at risk before you have a new one.

      2. ragazza*

        At least if they got fired they’d be able to get unemployment, which might be preferable to staying in this situation.

    3. Once upon a task*

      I would wait til you are in a new job THEN POST anonmyously. That way there is no chance that it can affect your new position

    4. Catwhisperer*

      came here to say this. PLEASE write a Glassdoor review. I’m in a similar situation and these companies will likely not respond to anything other than public pressure and shaming.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        Agreed. Make sure to share that you are looking because the company is cutting pay and claiming financial issues.
        Hey, it’s the official story.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          I agree – they told you they had to cut pay to avoid layoffs – seems a great reason to job search.

    5. The answer is (probably) 42*

      This! And encourage as many of your peers as possible to add their own reviews to glassdoor as well so that you don’t look like a single disgruntled outlier.

  1. ferrina*

    This is Cartoon Villian levels of shadiness. You deserve better- good luck in your job search!

    1. Goldenrod*

      “This is Cartoon Villain levels of shadiness.”

      Agreed! Why am I continually shocked by stuff like this?? I shouldn’t be.

      Why are some employers so shameless? Somehow, I can never lower my already low expectations low enough.

    2. Presea*

      The descriptor “Cartoon villain” is precisely what I had in mind the whole time I was reading this. This isn’t just banana crackers, this is an entire banana charcuterie board.

    3. WoodswomanWrites*

      Perfect analogy. In my cartoon fantasy, the team walks into the big boss’s office as a group and they all hand in their resignation letter en masse.

      OP, I hope that every single person on your team finds a new awesome job soon and has the opportunity to bring a valued colleague along to your new place of employment.

    4. Nefera de Nile*

      This whole situation really is cartoonishly egregious, isn’t it? All the details feel like exaggerations cartoon writers would put into a show about disgruntled employees. The fact that it’s real is pretty horrifying.

      1. Presea*

        Honestly, if you put this into a work of fiction, even something exaggerated like a childrens cartoon or a comedy, it would come off as over the top. I have so much sympathy for OP at how ridiculously bad this situation is.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I was gonna say, run like your heels are on fire and your butt is catching. (Though now that I think about it, the better thing to do in that situation would be to stop drop and roll, but. Whatever. Get out.)

      1. linger*

        Stop going beyond, drop any remaining loyalty, and cheap-ass roll out of there.
        It’s what they’ve shown they deserve.

          1. Mister_L*

            Since we’ve gone there, my only advice and their department to LW: “Fly, you fools.”

    2. Festively Dressed Earl*

      When the bees are wearing mirrored shades and gallons of hair product, it’s a *really* bad sign.

  2. The Original K.*

    “Act your wage.” There’s no reason for you to go above and beyond for less money – what did it get you before? A pay cut. Do what you can during your work hours and your work hours only, and start looking for a new job.

    And the audacity and condescension your boss displayed by telling you you’ll be over it in a few days is maddening, to say the least. How dare they?!

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      I had a former co-worker tell me, perhaps not in jest: “I work just enough that they don’t fire me. They pay me just enough that I don’t leave.” The second part isn’t true anymore, so do the first part until you do leave.

      1. The Original K.*

        Oh, I had a pretty senior guy tell me, completely seriously, that he did as little work as possible.

      2. Petty Betty*

        “They pretend to pay me, I pretend to work”.

        At this point, that’s almost what they’re doing. They’ve shown that they no longer value X amount of work, so they’ll have to settle for Q amount since they’ve chosen to cut wages so far back.

    2. Tupac Coachella*

      Right?!? And “it’s just $250 a month”?! That’s almost my car payment. Granted I don’t have a super fancy car, but losing the amount of an *entire bill* would be a serious hit to my budget. The audacity indeed.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        What a vile comment. I would so want to say: “Well boss, since it’s only $250 a month which isn’t a big deal to you, then you can take the cut instead of me.”

      1. I have RBF*

        Only? That’s an entire bill or two. I would be livid, and job searching hard if my job did this to me.

      2. Amy Farrah Fowler*

        My parents taught me “Only say only when it’s **your own money**” Never say “only” about someone else’s money because you don’t know their situation.

      3. She of Many Hats*

        For many people that’s one week of food, a week’s rent/mortgage, a car payment, half month of health insurance….

    3. Beevil Genius*

      “Waaa, everyone is quiet quitting. Waaa.” Just you wait! We are going to loud quit soon because this place is toxic.

    1. Anonymouse*


      We, grizzled veterans of AAM, know that the Worst Boss of the Year has to involve two of more of the Seven Deadly Sins.

      Greed alone won’t make it to the Top Ten.

      Greed, Pride and Gluttony, that’s a real contender.

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          Oh, like the boss who pretended to be from CYS, called an employee and threatened to take away her kids.
          Oh, then “wrote her up” for gossiping when she told a coworker about it.
          Not to be confused with the boss and coworker who staged a “prank” with a third person (coworker partner, CP).
          Boss told employee the police were here to arrest her. CP outside by a car.
          Employee breaks down crying, asks to call invalid mother at home before she’s arrested.
          Or the coworker who WAS investigated and charged because a coworker framed her for the purpose of bringing in the police to protect her from an abusive husband?
          So yeah. They are trashbag people. But they are simply venal, artless, transparent, not worthy of notoriety here.
          But definitely on Glassdoor.

          1. Retired not Fired*

            Wait a doggoneminute! I know I have been working like I owe the Mafia so I am way behind on reading the post but WOW!

    1. T. Boone Pickens*

      Same! I was floored reading along. This….this is beyond the pale especially cutting pay in the sales department after the sales team met their goals. What the heck!

      1. Mister_L*

        Your comments make me think I’ve been on this site too long, because I’m not shocked at all.

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      I wouldn’t be in the least surprised if LW worked at SVB; apparently their C Suite gave themselves six figure bonuses literal hours before the Feds took over their assets. That’s the kind of entitlement and delusion that’s out there.

      1. Peon by choice*

        I am normally a lurker, but this is so disgusting I felt obligated to comment. how is that legal?!

        1. Glen*

          Because this is the normal functioning of capitalism and we live in a liberal (polisci definition) democracy.

  3. Escapee from Corporate Management*

    Your boss sucks, the people above him suck, and they will never change. OP, please protect yourself and look for another job ASAP. If you worry about not making goal, don’t. They won’t reward you anyway.

    1. MEH Squared*

      This. I was just going to say ‘your boss sucks and isn’t going to change’ but you are right that it’s more than just the boss.

      OP, the complete and utter audacity of your workplace gobsmacked me. They truly went big when gaslighting you and your coworkers (and this is ongoing gaslighting), probably hoping that the sheer size of their lie would overwhelm you. Please get the hell out of there if you can as soon as possible.

      You are right to be mad, and

  4. MassMatt*

    This is really gross behavior. If at all possible, I would find another job ASAP and quit. Did they give you notice before the change in pay would take effect? I’m guessing it was immediate, in which case that’s exactly the amount of notice they deserve to be given when you are leaving. I would definitely put this on Glassdoor also.

    1. Lime green Pacer*

      I seem to recall that the labour code here states that, if employees pay is cut, they do not have to give any notice before leaving, for some period after the pay cut.

      1. Book lover*

        And in the U.S. you don’t need to give any notice at all, by law. (And neither does your employer. Nor do they need to give a reason for letting you go.)

        What might be true for the OP in the U.S. is that they would still be eligible for unemployment benefits if they quit. Normally you don’t get unemployment if you leave voluntarily or are fired for cause, but you can if you can show a substantial change in the working conditions.

        1. StephChi*

          OP’s bosses are so awful that, after OP gets a job, they shouldn’t bother giving any notice. They should just inform the boss that they got another job and they’ll be leaving at the end of the day. This company isn’t worthy of two weeks’ notice.

          1. I have RBF*


            Getting you to meet a goal, then taking management bonuses on it and cutting your pay? They have essentially said “We think you are such stupid schmucks that we can use you then abuse you and you won’t do a thing.”

            That’s good-bye music.

            They don’t care much at all about you, you shouldn’t care much at all about them.

          2. Anon Supervisor*

            I wouldn’t even tell them. I’d just pack up for the day and never come back. If they try and call you, just say “You’ll get over it in a day or two.”

  5. Purple Jello*

    Why should an employee go above and beyond, to reach UNreasonable goals, and then get penalized? You don’t, and neither should anyone else on the team. If all of you ONLY do the job you signed up for, for the hours you signed up for, then they’ll see how important your department really is.

    If you were getting 10% under market rate before this pay cut, then you need to job hunt. Don’t let them gaslight you. This is wrong.

    1. Hannah Lee*

      “If all of you ONLY do the job you signed up for, for the hours you signed up for, then they’ll see how important your department really is.”

      While this may or may not be true, I think for the LW, that’s something they shouldn’t waste time considering. Their current employer, company needs to be mentally and emotionally in LW’s rear-view-mirror, like, today. Do the minimum to stay employed, but polish up the resume (including the quantified results other posters have mentioned), put out feelers and start applying to new jobs.

      They should put all their emotional energy and effort towards their future – a bright future, at some other company: one that pays their employees fairly, doesn’t bait and switch, lie, gaslight around compensation, doesn’t make ANY department or employee feel like they are “the butt” of any part of the organization.

  6. Bad Wolf*

    This could be a big enough change at your work that if you decline the paycut and quit, you’d still qualify for unemployment. Something to research. And seriously consider.

    1. Agile Phalanges*

      I think it generally has to be a more egregious paycut than that, but it’s still worth OP looking into. Definitely job search, OP, and quit as soon as you’re able, and encourage your co-workers to do the same. You can be each others’ references as much as possible, etc.

        1. Zweisatz*

          Beautiful thinking. Surely don’t stall your own job search to make this happen, OP, but the thought brightens my day.

    1. Allornone*

      Note: Normally, I soften my language on public forums like these (“effed” up), but I believe this case warrants a stronger response. I appreciate it not being censored (though I would have understood if it had been).

      1. Ms. Afleet Alex*

        My first response to this letter was “Oh HELL no” and then I wondered if that would fly. Your language is perfect because you’re right on, this is more than effed up!

  7. Observer*

    Start looking for a new job. HARD.

    If anyone asks why “Our management cut the department’s pay, and said it was because business is so bad. Obviously I’m concerned about the future of the company.”

      1. PayCutOP*

        The industry I am in is rather limited and I’ve been saying that I realized I no longer want to work in this segment. The general response from hiring managers so far has been a good laugh and something like “PREACH” — you can dance around it with a little bit of creativity :)

      2. Observer*

        But that reasoning might paint LW in a bad light.

        Why? The OP can show that THEIR department exceeded goals, so the company is in a bad place for reasons they don’t know. And there is nothing to them look bad for being worried about the finances of their employer.

      3. HeraTech*

        Not necessarily. I left one job after a hugs fiasco that the press was reporting was going to result in a $75 million dollar fine for my company. I was reading about this fine in the news on a daily basis, but there was no communication about it from the company. Literally crickets. I was gone two months later.

        When I was asked during interviews why I was leaving? I said that 1) the lack of communication from corporate really worried me and 2) I assumed that based on our revenues, if that large a fine didn’t lead to layoffs, at the very least it was going to impact my future raises and bonuses.

      4. Grammar Penguin*

        How? Why would this reflect poorly on the LW? So, if you were a hiring manager and an applicant said this to you as the reason they’re leaving their current job, you would see the applicant, and not the employer, in a bad light? Why, exactly? I don’t get it.

        1. MauvaisePomme*

          I’m not the person you’re replying to, but I do agree this might be framing to stay away from, because any time you’re complaining about a punitive measure being taken against you at work, an interviewer will wonder if there’s more to the story. “They said business was bad, so they slashed our pay,” COULD point to the interviewee being so bad at their job that they were given a pay cut in the hopes that it would lead them to leave, OR that their department had done really poorly (e.g., the interviewee and their coworker were terrible at their jobs), which was why “business was bad.”

          In general, it’s a good idea to be careful in interviews to not give the interviewer the chance to think you may be telling them a skewed story. What happened here was so outrageously awful that lightly alluding to it in passing could cause more harm than good, and could alarm an interviewer into wondering about the other side of the story.

    1. Sara without an H*

      Maybe just “There have been some financial problems recently, and I’m looking for something with more stability. What excites me about your position is…”

      This would be truthful, but doesn’t risk making the OP sound negative.

      And OP should definitely be job searching. Because if this works, senior management won’t stop there.

    2. Nina*

      This is nice to think about, but in my country (not the US) actually doing it could run you afoul of some very common contract wording to the effect that you won’t disparage the company while you’re employed by them.

      1. Other Alice*

        Really? Even something as bland as “my pay was cut, I was told it’s due to the bad economy but I’m looking for somewhere more stable”? I used similar wording ages ago (for a startup that had no money for raises, and sometimes no money for my regular salary being paid on time) and nobody batted an eye, it was factual.

        1. Nina*

          Using the words “I’m concerned about the future of the company” in a scenario like the one Observer described can and has landed people in hot water, yes.

      2. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        Well, the upside of most US citizens not having contracts is this sort of thing can’t violate a nonexistent contract.

      3. I'm Just Here for the Cats!!*

        But if you had a contract would your pay be cut in the first place? I understand where you are coming from but I don’t think it applies in this situation.

        1. londonedit*

          We have contracts in the UK (usually our employment contracts are open-ended – there are also fixed-term ones in certain situations but for the purposes of this let’s assume it’s an ordinary office job with an ordinary open-ended contract) but any of the terms of the contract can be changed by your employer; you just need to be given notice of the change and agree to it (but of course if you don’t agree to it, your only option really would be to leave). You get a written notification of any forthcoming pay rise, bonus amount, increase in holiday allowance, etc, which becomes an addendum to your existing contract – and it works the same for changes that aren’t as positive as those. Some companies had to temporarily cut salaries during the first stages of Covid when everything was in total panic – that was perfectly legal as long as they gave employees notice.

      4. Heffalump*

        I realize that you said, “while you’re employed by them,” but once you’re no longer employed by them, it’s another matter. Non-disparagement clauses in severance agreements were allowed in the US until recently:

          1. Observer*

            Well, not by regulation – it’s almost certainly a legal over-reach. But it is possible that this could be legislated.

        1. Observer*

          Those kinds of clauses are only possible when there is actually some sort of severance agreement. If the OP walks, there is nothing the company can do.

    3. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      You are my people.
      Play stupid games; win stupid prizes.
      You tell me you don’t have enough money to pay me?
      OK. I need a new job.
      And I that’s the reason why.
      Even though our department succeeded in enabling the sales department to double it’s revenue, the company finds itself in financial straits that require department wide pay cuts.
      Just my department. Oh wait. You didn’t ask that. And if you did, well, I don’t really know. I only know what my boss told me when he said that my pay cut was not personal and not because my team and I did not do a great job.

  8. Black coffee with a pinch of spice*

    OP, your company doesnt care about you. I know that is difficult to hear, but its the truth. The very best thing you can do is actively job search and get out as soon as you can find something else. It is demoralizing staying at a place that doesnt value you as an employee. I am in a similar situation, and it really stinks to feel like you dont matter on a daily basis.

  9. Avril Ludgateaux*

    Your company sucks and is not going to change.

    Find something else and leave with the bare minimum notice that is courteous to give (all the better if you an manage to trigger a mass exodus).

  10. Vanilla latte*

    During the Great Recession, my former company had to cut our pay to keep the company going. I was in an entry-level position and making barely above minimum wage. They cut everyone’s position by a certain percentage. Leadership took even higher paycuts to spare the entry-level employees from even deeper cuts. My own manager took a quick large paycut so I wouldnt have to be on food stamps.

    The point is that everyone took a pay cut when the company was performing poorly. It was tough, but the company got through it. I left about a year later for a large salary increase, but I still had (and have) tons of respect and admiration for my former company. I dont hesitate to recommend them, because they are good and fair to the employees.

    1. BrooklynBlondie*

      Yeah—this is what our company did during lockdown. Everyone got a cut but the higher levels got the biggest percentage cuts.

    2. irene adler*

      Exactly- if a company is truly hurting, then everyone needs to undergo sacrifices.

      At my company, we too, were all issued a 10% pay cut when we lost a major customer at the beginning of the Great Recession. Uppermost management took a steeper cut than that (on the order of 40% – 50%). Many years later, the cuts were restored. Meanwhile, no raises whatsoever.

    3. Momma Bear*

      I had a boss once quit because our contract was bleeding and he knew he was the highest paid person and that we could manage that site without him. I still respect him for that. He bought us all time to find new jobs.

    4. Skippy*

      I worked for a company that sent around a message saying, “If we continue to face financial hardship, here’s what will happen:

      1. Freeze executive pay
      2. Freeze manager pay
      3. Freeze staff pay
      4. Cut executive pay
      5. Cut manager pay
      6. Cut staff pay

      I think ultimately they restructured and lost 2-3 jobs, and for a while there was a raise freeze on anyone making more than $40k/year. It sucked but it felt humane.

  11. MurpMaureep*

    First, yes this is bananapants level of awfulness. You are not overreacting, this is not normal.

    As others have said, start looking for a new job right now and stop all efforts to do more than the bare minimum in your current job. On top of that, encourage everyone in the department to become a broken record about how very Not Normal this is. Be the squeaky wheels, be the malcontents, complain about this to others in the organization. And don’t just complain, bring it up early and often as a basic fact of company life. If they think this is normal then how can they fault you for talking about it? Talk about the large bonuses that went out and the extraneous position that was created at every opportunity. Tell others that you were told $250 a month “isn’t that much” and then wonder aloud about how it’s weird they couldn’t find that money elsewhere.

    If higher ups have to constantly deal with a metric you-know-what ton of discontent, they will get fed up. And really, what can they do? Ding you for a “bad attitude”? If they try, inquire what type of attitude they expect from employees who are losing thousands of dollars a year while others are being awarded 10s of thousands?

    There’s zero reason to be polite or complacent anymore. Sure, stop short of outright insubordination, but make all the fuss you want and do not let them normalize this for one second.

    1. lilyp*

      I think this is bad advice. They can and will ding you for bad attitude even if they’re in the wrong. Why trash your reputation and reference just for the satisfaction of making snarky remarks? I think it’s reasonable to talk about what happened in factual terms and to answer honestly if anyone notices a drop in your going-above-and-beyond, but making a stink or turning into a broken record about it won’t get the pay cut undone and could make you look bad, especially to people who don’t know all the details.

    2. Hannah Lee*

      “First, yes this is bananapants level of awfulness. You are not overreacting, this is not normal.

      As others have said, start looking for a new job right now and stop all efforts to do more than the bare minimum in your current job.”

      Completely agree with ^ this.

      But for the rest, I think I’d skip it if I were the LW. Unless LW finds it entertaining and energizing to be a malcontent and to work with malcontents, it could be just a huge waste of the LW’s mental and emotional energy and effort. This is a jerk company managed by bad and jerk managers, they aren’t going to change and grousing isn’t going to get LW anywhere. LW doesn’t have to be silent, but would be better off leveraging their pissed-offedness, focusing their energy, emotion and effort on things that will get them a new better job.

      1. Colette*

        Not to mention that constantly complaining or dwelling on the situation will make the OP unhappier as well as everyone around her, which isn’t a good way to live your life.

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          Living well is the best revenge. This company sucks. It is messing with your finances and your career. Don’t give it your soul, too.
          I still advocate a Glass Door review!
          I just think you need to get out before you get beaten down.

  12. AnonyMouse*

    And “$250 is not a lot of money”?? That’s a car payment. That’s a student loan payment. That’s so many things that someone living paycheck to paycheck (which is a LOT of people) will no longer be able to pay for.

    OP, I hope you find a new job and company that values you soon!

    1. The Original K.*

      I spend a bit more than that on groceries every month, as a household of one. If I were living check to check and had to take that pay cut, that’s most of my food budget.

    2. Chirpy*

      Yeah, $250 might be the difference between your landlord continuing to rent to you or not (whether or not you can cut other things to make rent).

    3. Chickaletta*

      Yeah, I love how $250/mo. to the company makes a difference but apparently, it’s not supposed to make a difference to you??? And there’s only 6 people on your team, so the company is essentially saving $1500 a month. That’s what’s going to help them?? Financially?? What are they, Silicon Valley Bank????

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Right??? “If it’s not a big deal amount of money, then why bother cutting it from my pay?” is what I want OP to ask if they are in a position to do so. But in my AAM fanfic, it would be the day after they accept a new job somewhere else but the day before they turn in their resignation.

        Acceptable substitute question: “If it’s not a big deal amount of money, then why not cut it from the people for whom it’s a much smaller percentage of their salary?” Oh, the questions I wish we lower-paid people could ask….

        1. PayCutOP*

          So here is the funny thing: you take a lot of bad behavior in this position. So they hire a lot of people with spines who stand up for themselves.

          So I did ask exactly that. I mean, right? If it’s “only” $250, then why?

          I’m sure you won’t be shocked to hear that they ignored the question.

          1. Slow Gin Lizz*

            Nice going, you! Of course they ignored the question, what jerks. Hope you get out soon!!

      2. icedcoffee*

        I wonder if it’s a token move to placate stockholders? Sure it’s not an impactful move but it’s something, and it makes the stockholders slightly less nervous.

    4. PayCutOP*

      As I wrote a coworker after my meeting that day, “tell me [boss] makes $200-300k+ without telling me [boss] makes $200-300k”.

    5. Lirael*

      I’m in the UK and in a cheap area so it’s not exactly comparable, but it’s like 80% of my mortgage payment. just, no.

  13. SMH*

    Can you organize a collective call out and have all 6 employees not show up one day? I mean it’s only one day so they shouldn’t be mad about it. Find another job and give no notice.

    1. Leandra*

      If they can get away with it, that’d be great.

      I know of a staffing agency that got a frantic call one morning from a small firm, for three temps before 9 am.

      The first one to arrive reported back that the firm’s three regular admin assistants had staged a sickout against the office manager.

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      I did actually wonder when I read this letter if they were intentionally trying to hurt department morale so badly that they’d have resignations, instead of doing layoffs. And then the big bosses would get even bigger bonuses because they wouldn’t replace all the staff who were laid off. But given that they didn’t really bother hiding the friend’s hiring, they are probably not strategic enough to think of that plan.

    3. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      I was also curious about whether there was some possibility of collective action. The fact that they separated everyone to tell them means they know there’s power in numbers. But only the LW will have a sense of whether the company would come down hard and even if there are enough staff willing to take the risk of taking a stand. It’ll likely depend on how difficult it is to find other jobs in the industry in your area.

      Otherwise yeah, nothing wrong with acting your wage. If they’re going to treat you all this badly, they have no right to expect you to do anything beyond what is explicitly in your job description. $250 a month is a lot of money for a lot of people, especially if you’re already underpaid.

      1. My Cabbages!*

        Ah, a good old-fashioned sickout. The classics never go out of style.

        (Club soda or vodka can cause a false positive on many home Covid tests, btw…)

  14. M. from P.*

    The cynic in me thinks they used the “savings” on your pay to pay for the bonuses.

    1. Luca*

      OT, I’ve heard of executives being paid big bonuses so they wouldn’t have to sell assets to pay a divorce settlement.

  15. Meep*

    Please update us when the majority of the sales teams have left and the bosses haven’t a clue why. Or better yet, send them this thread.

  16. Lacey*

    This is incredibly bad. I’ve witnessed the normal level of bad – lame raises while the boss talks about his villa in Sweden – this is absurd.

    Do only what you have to and save your energy to polish up that resume!

    It sounds like you guys hit a really difficult goal, so hopefully that’s going to impress potential employers and make them ready to snap you up!

    1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Having flashbacks to working in sales many years ago and having our commission cut three times in about 18 months, maybe less. People were understandably angry by the third time, particularly since the commission was just over half what it had been originally. The managers sympathized and gave the feedback about staff morale at a district-wide meeting. It was… not received well… The walls were so thin that the district manager’s yelling was audible all the way down the hall. He went on stress leave shortly thereafter, never to return. I quit and went to grad school.

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        For clarity, there were definitely 3 commission cuts, just not entirely sure about the timeframe. And yes, we were making minimum wage.

  17. Alex*

    Clearly the decisionmakers in the company don’t value what your group does. This is a sign that you should be job searching as hard as you possibly can. Good luck! I hope you find something that is a big raise real quick, and I hope all your coworkers do too, and I hope they find themselves SCRAMBLING without you. (which they definitely will)

  18. BJP*

    OMG ruuuuuuuuuuuuun. Seriously do you have enough in savings to give two weeks notice and get the hell out of there so that you can take a week to recover and then start looking for a new job? You need to get out of there as fast as you can and make sure to give yourself some time to rest and decompress after this ridiculous experience.

    You are a valuable worker and another company is going to be excited to find you and hire you!

    1. Double A*

      Why would OP give 2 weeks notice? This bridge is BURNT.

      (I know there are reasons they might still need to but I fervently hope they can quit with no notice).

    2. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      This lying sack of crap company doesn’t deserve the courtesy of 2 weeks notice.

    3. Colette*

      I would strongly advise against this. Most people don’t have the savings to be out of work indefinitely, and you never know how long a job search will take (or what might derail you that you don’t know about like unexpected illness or injury). And, since $250/month is a hardship to the OP who isn’t paid much, $0/month is going to be a big problem.

  19. I'm Done*

    Put any additional effort into finding another job. Your company and its management suck. What a horrible way to treat people.

  20. Falling Diphthong*

    Your company sucks and isn’t going to change.

    It’s an AAM truism for a reason.

    Cutting your salaries opened up around $25,000 in five figure bonus for someone who didn’t meet their goals, but does have vibes with the bonus committee. Nothing was said to them about how the economy and the company are both in the toilet.

  21. Rachel*

    You’re absolutely being gaslighted. This is not okay. Listen to your anger. Get out of there!

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Listen to your anger.

      Negative emotions get a bad rap, but we have them for a reason–often they’re a helpful warning system. We don’t like experiencing them, and so look for ways to alter what we’re doing so we don’t feel that way any more.

      You could have two good friends, one chill and one a hot reactor, who are helpful to each other in this way. Chill advises Hot that he is wasting his energy fuming at a mental construct of the rude driver from yesterday; Hot advises Chill that Chill is allowed to be angry at that person who just betrayed him, and to take steps so it can’t happen again.

    2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Yes! The anger – and any other feelings you’re having – are totally justified, LW! Here’s the situation:
      1. Your team did all that was expected and met your goals.
      2. Management lied to you about the financial status of the company for their own ends.
      3. You collectively got screwed and other people got bonuses.

      I’m pissed on your behalf! Your company is trying to make this situation seem complicated, like by bringing broader economic trends into it, but it’s actually very simple.

  22. lyonite*

    Fingers crossed for a great update for this one. Like a new job for the OP and former bosses running around with their hair on fire because nothing can be done since the entire team left!

    1. Goldenrod*

      Yep! And I hope OP prints out this entire comment thread and hides multiple copies of it around the office on their way out.

  23. Parenthesis Guy*

    Ideally, you’d all quit as a group if the pay cuts aren’t reversed. Thing is, even if they are, you’re never going to trust these guys again. So, it’s time to leave.

  24. Peanut Hamper*

    Everybody, and I mean everybody, who took a pay cut, should be looking for new jobs. Eff this company.

  25. ARS*

    LW, this is unacceptable, and a great time for you and your colleagues to reach out to a union organizer.

  26. Falling Diphthong*

    Seriously, OP, the longer any of you stay in this situation the more it will warp your idea of what is normal. Looking back after 6 months in a normal company, you’re going to be astonished at what you’d written off as normal in this one.

    1. PayCutOP*

      You are the winner of the thread.

      I wrote this a few weeks ago (Alison gets so many great emails, I’m sure her inbox is daunting) ; I can’t update formally yet but will eventually. I’m not in a new position yet, but suddenly in hindsight, I see all the cracks very clearly. It really was gradual gaslighting from when I started — they just tried to much on me at one time (the pay cut), and I saw through it. And then everything began to crumble.

      The reassurance here has been a relief.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Glad you are seeing the cracks. It can be amazing how fast the whole facade crumbles once you finally stop and say “But wait, that doesn’t actually make sense.”

      2. sometimeswhy*

        Oh, that’s so good to hear. I look forward to when you can update. Good luck to you and your team. I hope you get to bail all around the same time.

      3. Lily Rowan*

        YES. I have had some crappy jobs that I felt fine about… until I was on my way out and realized how absolutely miserable they were/I was.

        Good luck to you, OP!

      4. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        Glad to see you here, OP. And glad that you’ve gotten some clarity on the situation and also support in the comments. You deserve better than how you’ve been treated!

      5. AnonEMoose*

        OP, you deserve SO MUCH BETTER than this. When I got laid off in January of 2022, I thought I’d never find a place that would treat me as well as Previous Job. And to be fair, there were good things about that place.

        But you know what? I’m now making more money, have better benefits, and for the first time in my career, have the possibility of a bonus. And the work is actually important…not just to me or the company, but in a broader sense. And some of my volunteer experience is actually considered valuable.

        I hope that you have a similar, or even better, update to your situation, and that management at your current company learns to their cost what they lost. Or threw away, more like.

        Possibly amusing side note: I understand why we started using “bananapants” here, and agree with the reasons ompletely. That said, every time I read that, I think about Josephine Baker. One of the things she was known for was her famous “Banana Dance,” during which she wore a belt with bananas fastened to it.. and not that much else. She also did a lot of really awesome things, like working with the French Resistance during WWII, and insisting on performing in front of integrated audiences in the US when that was A Thing. She was well known as an entertainer, and is still a source of inspiration today, but there’s so much more to her story. Sorry for the digression!

      6. coffee*

        Sometimes things are so far out of line, you know that someone is living in a different reality, and it’s nice to confirm that that person isn’t you.

        I hope you find a new job soon. One that pays you properly! Which is the whole point of having a job!

        1. PayCutOP*

          I love the way you put this. That was exactly it — I wasn’t sure who needed the reality check!

  27. Coin_Operated*

    I have to disagree with the claim that this is not normal. It very much is. Our entire capitalist system is literally built on underpaying labor to make the top 1% richer. It’s the main reason why inflation was so high. Corporations are bringing in record profits while lobbying to pay fewer taxes, deregulate, and pay their employees less, despite data showing employee productivity is at an all-time high.

    1. Chickaletta*

      Oh 100%. Can vouch for this as an EA who sees what the top 1% gets vs. the rest of the company. Believe me, they get their bonuses no matter what, the reason they tell themselves is that “chief execs are hard and expensive to recruit, we need to pay them (us) well for retention”. So, they believe, to the tune of millions of dollars, that they have to pay themselves these bonuses and salaries so that they don’t quit, but when they talk about retaining the rest of the workforce do you think pay is at the top of their list? They will come up with a dozen other strategies to motivate employees and make them happy before they increase pay. Individually, these are smart men and women, but as a group, they are f’ing nut jobs. Also, they’re greedy with their money, plain and simple.

  28. Turtlewings*

    If it wouldn’t be an utter financial disaster (as in, a mild disaster would still be worth it), I would honestly quit on the spot. No notice. Nothing lined up. Just get out, in such a way that they can’t avoid knowing it’s a direct result of the pay cut.

    This is insanity.

    1. Sally*

      Agree, this is so egregious I would have to leave right away because I don’t think I could continue without quickly being fired for yelling and flicking everyone off.

      If at all possible, Get Out. This isn’t healthy.

  29. Sara without an H*

    Hi, OP — you don’t say what industry you’re in, but if at all possible, I think you should start working to rule. Come in on time, but leave promptly at the same time every night. Do not work late, do not volunteer for extra projects. Do your job, do it correctly, but don’t go above and beyond.

    Then put all your energy into job searching. Check the AAM archives for Alison’s advice about resumes, cover letters, and strategy.

    Because if your senior leadership find they can get away with this, they’ll keep doing it. If you and your colleagues submit to the salary cuts, they’ll start chipping away at your benefits, PTO, etc. They’ve given you ample proof of bad faith. Don’t hang around any longer than you have to.

  30. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

    “Only” $250 a month is a lot of money! That pays at least two bills or buys two weeks of groceries. Sometimes pay cuts are necessary (like during the pandemic) but usually it affects all employees equally.

    It sounds like they cut the pay of this department in order to give a bonus to another department. And then they’re lying about it.

    The writing is on the wall here. My guess is they are planning to gut that department given they don’t value it. Begin looking for other employment.

  31. Yesterday’s Bingo*

    I make a comfortable amount of money, have plenty of savings, and I still think $250 a month is a *huge* amount to cut! That’s not fair at all.

  32. CatCat*

    They were too afraid to tell us as a group…

    Of course they were. Probably hoping you wouldn’t talk about it together. They can’t keep you from reacting as a group though. I’d be conferring with my colleagues to determine what the bare minimum of this job is and do only that. Gosh, I hope everyone else peaces out for better opportunities in rapid succession as well.

  33. cnoocy*

    I wonder if they are planning to outsource your department, and this is their way of minimizing layoff costs. Which (to be clear) would be despicable, but not out of character for a corporation.

  34. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

    I just had the lovely fantasy of your entire team quitting, en masse, on the same day. Coordinating pressing send on your resignation letters.

    You deserve better than this crap.

    1. Phony Genius*

      I was thinking the same, but they each submit their resignations one at a time, just like how they were told about the pay cuts.

  35. Yep, me again*

    This makes me think this is a Lead Development/Sales Development role if you’re quota based. Maybe customer success, but that role can vary from company to company.

    If it’s development, it’s incredibly stupid and short-sighted to change your compensation, but I would be curious if this was the commission cut (which, yeah, it would make sense but clearly crappy when you know you made your target) or base pay. Probably the commission, hence the callousness of it all.

    They’re also counting on the fact that you’re new to sales from how it sounds (entry-level sales)

    Leave. Leave today. Trust when I tell you, you can do better! Borrow money from your parents if you have to, but you can leave.

  36. Colorado*

    I would spend my day job looking for another job. This sucks OP and there is something better out there for you. Best of luck and keep us posted!

  37. Dust Bunny*

    I mean, there are angry bees and then there are angry, sentient, helicopters.

    I think you’ve got the second one. Start job-hunting.

    1. Metadata Janktress*

      I cackled at “angry, sentient, helicopters.” Thank you for brightening my afternoon!

  38. RJ*

    This is full-on corporate gaslighting, OP and you need to get the fudge outta there and then out them in detail on Glassdoor. To tell you that you’d get over it in a few days was just the icing on the dysfunctional cake that is your current company.

  39. Subject Matter E*

    This is one of the few times where someone (outside of an actual relationship, of course) says they’re being gaslighted and it is absolutely that! It’s used so often just for any sort of lying since it became a pop psych term, but they are actually trying to make you doubt your reality.

    GTFO as soon as you can. Go make your money.

  40. A lawyer*

    I mean, how stupid is this company? Why would you piss off and alienate your sales team, which presumably drives revenue and income? Even on The Office (which usually is a show that lets you know what NOT to do in the workplace) the higher ups knew how important it was to keep sales happy. OP you should run, not just because they have acted cruelly, but also there are clearly idiots running things at this organization.

    1. Heather*

      It’s like that time on The Office when Michael got a big Christmas bonus and nobody else got a Christmas bonus, including sales…only worse.

  41. teensyslews*

    Sensible part of my brain: find a new job and do the bare minimum until then
    Revenge part of my brain: find a new job and actively sabotage them until then

  42. sometimeswhy*

    And while you’re looking and doing exactly what is required of your job and not an ounce more, if your boss tries to “motivate” the team with promises of bonuses, it wouldn’t be uncalled-for to remind them what happened the last time y’all busted your butts to get everyone else their bonuses.

  43. HB*

    In my heart of hearts I want you to all walk out en masse. That would be a terrible idea unless there is some magical unicorn company out there that snatches you all up, but given that you guys as a team exceeded an insane goal… sounds like you all have excellent prospects.

    Please update us once you’ve found your new position, hope it happens soon!

  44. Phony Genius*

    So the company says that this team “loses money for the company.” Most companies that I know will lay off an entire team if that’s true, seeing that there’s no good reason to keep them. Since they’re not laying off the team, the team has value and the statement is not likely to be remotely accurate. Something is definitely not normal with this company.

    1. PayCutOP*

      It’s actually an even stupider comment than it seems — my team doesn’t make the money directly because we do all the grunt work for the sales closers. So that, you know, the closing team can spend all their time… closing… and not spend all day formatting contracts, cleaning and formatting data, running targeted campaigns, etc.

      The closers kiss our feet, appropriately and we appreciate them. None of us are convinced that the rest of the company has any idea what we do, though. Which is a problem on its own.

      1. Properlike*

        Closers should’ve been advocating for you all. Or maybe they were. Excited for the pending update!

        1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          Exactly. I’m glad to hear that the closers are appropriately appreciative about what your team does to support them and are respectful to you as colleagues. Do they know what’s going on? At the very least, they might act out of self-preservation. If a few of you get fed up and leave, they’re going to have to start doing their own grunt work. Perhaps there is a “rainmaker” or two who can explain to senior leadership that they need you and they need you happy.

      2. sometimeswhy*

        Can you enlist the allyship of the closers? Let them know what just happened to the team they rely on?

      3. Momma Bear*

        Those closers are going to miss the expertise that the paycut is walking out the door. If that were me, I’d be advocating for my support staff. But IMO this is no longer your problem. Take your out and let the chips fall.

        1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          For sure. You don’t owe anyone at that company much of anything. You certainly don’t owe them sticking around in a sucky situation.

        2. My Cabbages!*

          Hell, if I were a closer I’d be looking for a new job when my company treated my support staff like this. I can’t believe how amazingly short-sighted this is.

          (Sigh… in truth, sadly I can easily and fully believe it…)

      4. WantonSeedStitch*

        Oh boy, I’m in a similar role in the nonprofit world (we help the fundraisers know who to ask for money, how much to ask for, etc.), and I know how frustrating it is when the closers get all the credit and the back office gets none.

    2. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      “loses money for the company” can apply to many essential departments in an org but I hear it most for Mar/Comm in my experience. It costs money to advertise or write press releases, or social media campaigns, or create fancy brochures, ect. but they don’t draw a direct line between that and the revenue generated — it gets credited to Sales instead…or magic. The same can be said though for Accounting or Operations or Distribution departments. The company can’t run without them, but they “cost” money.

      1. Colette*

        Customer support, human resources, … pretty much everything except sales and (possibly) development.

      2. I have RBF*

        I work in systems operations. We are considered a cost center, a necessary evil, right up until there’s a zero day that needs to be patched immediately. Then they realize they need us to keep the lights on. We aren’t a revenue generating group, but we are a revenue loss prevention group.

      3. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        I figure that with lots of these types of positions, the people in charge (wrongly!) think that the tasks are simple and easy. Like anyone can send some Tweets and make a brochure! Although that may technically be true, not everyone can do these things well.

  45. SometimesCharlotte*

    Absolutely incenses me that this kind of thing isn’t illegal. Doesn’t surprise me – way too much exploitation of employees is completely legal – but it still is beyond infuriating

  46. Fedupworker*

    This exact same thing is happening to us right now but I work for a Very Large Hospital System in patient care. So let that sink in. Slashed staffing and cut hours while record profits and expansions ate being made. Hard to believe they aren’t putting profits over patients.

  47. Chocolate Teapot*

    Saying USD 250 isn’t a lot of money reminds me of my former job, where my boss asked me not to take all my owed holiday time, and it would be paid out in cash.

    Unfortunately, where I live, there is a tax penalty if you do this, and when I queried losing money, my boss told me that “It’s not very much”.

    Well of course boss would say this. It wasn’t their money!

    I took my full owed holiday time, and ignored the weeping and wailing.

  48. Megan C.*

    This is really sucky behavior from the company/your bosses. They’ve shown that they don’t value you or your team’s contributions. As hard as it may be, it’s definitely time to move on. I hope to see you in a Friday Good News post soon with an awesome new position and a great pay raise. Good luck!

  49. Barney Stinson*

    I am furious on your behalf. Run, don’t walk for the nearest exit. Preferably as a group.

  50. Outofthepool*

    Please, please give us a hint of this wretched company’s name. At the very least, gather your co-workers and post this awfulness on Glassdoor. Whoever they are, they have catapulted to Worst Company of the Year for 2023.

  51. HonorBox*

    I’m really sorry this is happening to you and your teammates, LW. This sucks. Full stop.

    The optics of cutting one team’s pay, while hiring and bonusing others is gross.

    While I agree with Alison that you should do enough to stay employed, I would highly recommend putting any of that extra effort you’ve put in before to your job search. This company clearly has signaled that their values are awful and you and your teammates deserve far better.

  52. Dawn*

    You know those investors who didn’t think those goals could be met?

    It’d be a shame if someone were to (anonymously) share with them what the company’s doing to the team that met them.

    Just saying.

  53. Spicy Tuna*

    Not normal and not fair at all. Start looking for another job, like, yesterday.

    I once worked for a well-known airline whose name was taken from the country where United States citizens live. I was in an non-unionized part of the work force. The various unions were renegotiating their contracts, and in order for them to agree to reductions in benefits and perks to save money post-9/11, the non-unionized work force had to take a pay cut. Since we were not unionized, it wasn’t an option or something we could agree to or vote on. So after working ridiculous hours with no raises after 9/11, everyone had to take less money.

    Even before the cuts, the salaries were very low, but the offset was the free travel benefits. Of course, after 9/11 when the airlines all cut routes to save money, it was nearly impossible to use the standby-only flight benefit.

    There was a mass exodus of the non-unionized workforce. Anyone that could get any other job did so and only the people with no other options were left. A few jobs later, I actually used my former grand boss from the company (he was still there) as a reference and he was begging me to come back because they were desperate for warm bodies. Hard pass!

  54. Joseph*

    And half way through I stood up and started singing “The Internaitonal”.

    So comrades come rally and the last fight let us face

  55. Ladycrim*

    Gaslighting along these lines – though not as severe – finally pushed me to get a new job after 20 years of loyalty. You’re already underpaid. Get your resume out there, get a job that pays you what it should, and leave a Glassdoor review on your way out.

  56. Beepboop*

    yea, they are treating you like crap and are gaslighting you and they won’t change any time soon. Start a job search and each day do the bare minimum to keep yourself employed.

    1. Anonosaurus*

      get out get out get out. the fact you’re even questioning this shows how thoroughly they’ve gaslit you. in no universe is this reasonable. phone it in while you find another job and don’t look back!!

  57. hbc*

    “Our bosses kept telling us we would cool down after a few days….”

    This may or may not fit your personality, but in this situation, I would meet with my boss and say, “I’ve given some thought to what you said and allowed myself a chance to cool down. But I still have one question that’s getting in the way. What justification is there for giving bonuses to so many people across the organization while cutting our pay in the same year we met all of our goals?” And then when they do the double talking nonsense (because they will), repeat “That still doesn’t explain why we get our salaries cut while everyone else gets raises and bonuses.”

    It probably won’t change anything, but I can’t stomach letting people think their gaslighting is working on me.

  58. Michelle Smith*

    Look up quiet quitting and do exactly that until you have a new, better job. What an absolute joke those people you work for are!!!

  59. Meghan*

    If you have all hands meetings or any input method that everyone in the company will see, do it. Have an all company Slack channel? Light them up. If you have nothing to loose there, take them down on your way out the door.

  60. Davis*

    This is why everyone needs to unionize. If this happened at my job it would violate our contract.

  61. I take tea*

    Cutting your salary and giving bosses raises is just a dick move. Talk about stealing your work. I hope you all can get out and the bosses fail miserably at trying to do your job.

  62. Limdood*

    So, a related question here:

    If your company reduces your pay, that’s effectively a new contract….that’s them renegotiating your job terms. If you don’t accept the new terms, and thus are no longer employed….are you eligible for unemployment, assuming sufficient time worked?

    That’s a general “you/your” – not this specific person, just this general situation: a business reducing an employee’s pay.

    1. UrsulaD*

      Depends where you are! In some states it would be constructive dismissal. Internationally it runs the gamut from totally illegal to allowed without penalty.

    2. Watry*

      A large enough change to the terms of the job (pay, commute, commission structure, that sort of thing) can mean you qualify. Not sure if $250 a month would be considered a big enough change, though.

  63. Bess*

    I guess I would think they are trying to get your team to quit, for some reason? Otherwise none of this makes any sense.

  64. Goody*

    my mental conversation, which I would never actually say because the boss would deliberately choose to read it very differently than intended:

    Boss: “It’s only $250… you’ll cool down in a few days. ”

    Me: “Yep, from home, because now I can no longer afford my car payment so I have to relinquish the vehicle and can’t get to work anymore.”

    1. Goody*

      And completely seriously, this company’s executive suite is full of murder hornets. You and your team need to all get out of there fast before the stinging gets worse.

  65. yala*

    I think it would kinda be cool if y’all all quit en masse. Just walked out. Maybe they beg and offer again, maybe not. But man, they deserve to get hit hard by this.

  66. Good Enough For Government Work*

    The Lion, the Witch and the ABSOLUTE *AUDACITY* of This Bitch.

    OP, your employer doesn’t deserve you. Run.

  67. Spicy Meatball*

    Not sure I could refrain from telling the boss “If you don’t think $250/month is a big deal, then how about YOU take the paycut.” and then orchestrating a mass walk-out.

  68. bing bong*

    This pissed me right off! My jaw was fully unhinged. I’m so sorry y’all are going through this, it’s NOT OKAY. I hope you all find amazing high paying jobs right quick and they lose everyone in one day. And also… I don’t care what department your team is in, if your company is surpassing goals and succeeding, then all you high performers had a hand in it and deserve a piece of the pie. A company is a “machine” made up of the sum of its parts. I work as a marketing creative and it’s not exactly easy to quantify my value to the company, but I know I have immense value and even though sales is running after those deals, my work does help them.

  69. There You Are*

    Back before the dot-com bust, I worked for a small consulting company that signed on as a reseller of a certain kind of ERP software. I was hired as the sole salesperson for the software. I would sell the software, and the consulting company would implement it.

    I closed several multi-million dollar deals in my first year.

    I also, during that first year, declined to join the rest of the company — all men — at “the company’s” lake house in Wisconsin, where they took “the company’s” boat out on the lake and went water skiing. I never had the free time to drop what I was working on to spend 3-5 days several states away partying.

    I was paid a pretty good base salary, but the commissions on the sales would pretty much double my salary.

    I say “would” because the commissions never materialized.

    The money from my sales all went into the lake house for the owners of the company (who were brothers); plus furniture; plus the boat; plus the airfare, food, and booze for those trips (and many other personal expenses).

    I quit, and the software side of the business ended with my departure. Eventually, they mismanaged the consulting side into the ground, too.

    OP – The company that will do this to you will do worse to you in the future if you stick around.

  70. cynic*

    You have my sympathy and you’ve gotten great advice.

    I wonder about 2 things:
    1) was your team’s pay cut to be able to have room in the payroll the boss’s friend?
    2) what are the gender dynamics – is your team largely female and the others male?

    After you leave this mess let us know how you fare.

  71. SadieMae*

    Whenever I hear something like this (which, sadly, is often here in the US) I wonder if the fat cats *know* they’re screwing over the little guys and just don’t care – or if they honestly believe that any business gains are due to their own effort/talent/general magnificence, so they should get the lion’s share of the profits AND the bonuses too.

    It reminds me of the rich white guy character on “The Good Place” who insisted in all seriousness, “Yeah, I went to Princeton, but I got in on my own merits . . . just like my father and grandfather before me.”

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      Both, really. The thing to remember is that not only do people who think like this hold loyalty in contempt, they hold the employees in contempt BECAUSE they are loyal. And at the very same time, they really think they are Just The Bestest and deserve the biggest, best helpings of everything and are astonished when those lucky peons who are allowed to slave away for them walk out the door.

      1. I have RBF*

        Yes, and management is shocked, shocked, that they don’t own those peons’ souls, the peons aren’t slaves, and the peons can leave when they are fed up with being taken advantage of. They will whine, a lot, because their delusions will come crashing down, but that’s not the LW’s problem.

        It makes me want an update that says “Everybody who got screwed left within two months, with no notice.” But that’s wishful thinking. Some people do get into the servile mindset and just… take it.

  72. Union Girl*

    I’m in the UK and public sector, so know my view is probably a bit different, but I’d be going to my union about this (or making 1 of my own).
    I’d want reinstatement of my wages, plus bonuses for everyone on the team- not just the manager. Paid overtime and/or time in lieu.
    You’re on the lowest wages, overpreforming, yet you get a pay cut, whilst others get bonuses for your hard work?!
    You can start with petition or pledges. Protests/rallies. Make it as visable as possible. If they aren’t budging on that you can start work-to-rule (no overtime, take your breaks, if something isn’t in your job description don’t do it). If that doesn’t work, strike. You can petition/pledge before working to rule or striking- it shows the company that workers are behind it and may bring them to the table to prevent those steps, it also helps show workers there are others uniting with them, which is much easier than being a lone voice, and makes it more likely they will take that action.
    Aware that trade union culture is bigger over here, and there are certain stigma attached over in the US but you have had some great wins through unionisation recently

  73. Amber L.*

    I’m also in sales and I’m being screwed myself, I’m labeled as a Route Sales Representative. And I place orders for gas stations, mom and pop stops, Family Dollars, CVS’s etc. and every week I receive (in my work email) a sales report of everything I ordered and it’s commission. But when I contacted HR about my commission (I have never received) they said your not a sales representative you’re a merchandiser . Um no I’m a route sales representative and I get commission pdf’s sent to my email?? So who’s getting my commission bc I’m not??? Your not supposed too omg yes I am . Idk know to do or should I look further bc I’m owed thousands of $ in back commissions?? I’m sure I can find an attorney to find out what’s being covered up

    1. Raging Iron Thunder*

      Please do go talk to an Employment Lawyer.

      I also suggest looking for a new job.

  74. Zarniwoop*

    OP, I hope when you find a new job you quit without notice. It’s what they deserve, and do you expect a good reference from the folks who cut your pay?

  75. Coder von Frankenstein*

    I worked for a company that cut our pay once. The cuts were company-wide; 5% for the folks working on the warehouse floor, 10% for the office workers, 20% for the executives. And they made it clear that they were doing it because the only alternative was a big round of layoffs, and they didn’t want to do that.

    That’s how you do pay cuts, if you have to do them.

    LW, what your company is doing is vile. In your place I would be job-hunting aggressively — and doing the absolute minimum amount of work to stay employed in the meantime. And encouraging your coworkers to do the same.

    1. Boof*

      Yep, covid austerity measures we managed to avoid pay cuts but they did cut retirement contributions (my place contributes a % of salary no matching); those at the top took the biggest cut and those with the lowest salaries, the least. We got updates on when the austerity measures would end and eventually they did.

  76. TG*

    I’d be so outta there and hopefully your whole group leaves. Sounds completely unacceptable and bull.

  77. Mother Trucker*

    my company did temporary pay cuts during COVID. They laid off floor staff that the managers decided, then at the end gave us the decision to lay off everyone else or take a pay cut. we obviously chose a pay cut. At the end of the year, it was realized that we did better than expected and they paid us back the amount we were cut. This is the only scenario that a pay cut is warranted. last case scenario, exhaust all other options. no one benefited – the higher ranked staff even took a bigger cut. you need to leave.

  78. Raging Iron Thunder*

    Well, @OP, I sincerely hope you and your team go out and find new jobs. This story is so awful I want to believe it’s fake, but I suspect it’s not. I’ve heard equally stupid stories from friends in real life.

    My vote for worst company of the year.

  79. Heather*

    This is so appalling. I’m outraged for you! Definitely a worst boss/company of the year contender. At my current job in the finance department of a struggling organization. I’m appalled at how bonuses are handed out to certain already decently paid staff “to retain them,” while others make so little. I try not to think about it too much.

  80. Nina Bee*

    If there was ever a time to quiet quit, then really quit, it is here… The sheer audacity of the higher ups!

  81. ijustworkhere*

    It’s bad management and I hope all of you leave–even better if you all leave at the same time!

  82. WhoKnows*

    OP, my blood is absolutely boiling on your behalf. You are 1000% in the right and deserve to be upset. I hope you find something else soon. If you are at a lower-level position, there are usually more of those available, so I hope that means you can transition easily. Best of luck and f**k this company!

  83. 2 Cents*

    OP, this is a crap company and the managers will never change! Please get out! No amount of reasoning with them or reasoning for what their doing to you will justify this. They’re using you and hoping you won’t notice.

  84. Phoebe*

    One of the (many) things that gets me is that frequently these salary/bonus edicts come from higher up and your immediate boss’s hands are tied. But here, the boss is just treating the employees like idiots who will take the abuse.

    I would be so furious I would be almost incapable of accomplishing my job. Certainly I wouldn’t do a speck above and beyond.

    I think at this point you don’t have a lot to lose by escalating (while job searching, of course). You have the numbers. I’d love to hear the CEO or a regional VP publicly justifying saying your performance is down when you know otherwise.

  85. JelloStapler*

    They get the bonuses that you got for them and they are cutting your pay and moving the goalposts. Yup, I agree – look around and move on if you can. This company is so fishy I can smell it from here.

  86. DJ*

    Look to move on ASAP. It sounds like the only way the company will learn is for most of the team to move on ASAP. Then they to replace a whole lot of experienced ppl. And when the new staff learn what happened (which I’m sure they will) they wouldn’t have been there long enough to be invested or have no other options so will move on quickly and even leave this job off their resumes.
    When you do find other work share how you went about it with those in the team that feel they have no choice. Offer job search support. If you have any one underneath you offer to act as a good referee. And in the meantime quietly quit.
    So sorry to hear this has happened to you all.

  87. Maureen*

    Good heavens.
    LW, you and your team are being exploited and just about openly mocked by those above you, who are collecting bonuses for your work.
    Do the absolute bare minimum to not get fired. Keep records of everything you do. And start looking for another job — ASAP.
    Once you are comfortably in a new job, I would also leave a VERY honest review on Glassdoor (but do it professionally).

  88. Enginear*

    That anger never really goes away; trust me. I was mislead by my boss after busting my butt off since I was eligible for a promotion and then told at the very end ohhh, you almost had it. I lost all motivation and found a different position internally that was a promotion and it’s been a breath of fresh air. Best of luck.

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