Last week I met an old friend at a local coffee shop in Royal Oak. Busy with careers, kids and the rigors of life, we hadn’t seen each other in over a year. Sitting at our favorite table, we drank our lattes while her Blackberry buzzed, notifying her of numerous new emails, texts and voice messages.
Disheveled and tired my dear friend explained how she was so overworked that she felt like she was losing her mind. This past year her employer had reduced its labor force by 55% and forced the remaining employees to take a 20% pay cut. Her workload is so overwhelming that she is forced to work long hours and weekends. She sleeps about 4 hours a night and feels constantly stressed out. She began crying as she explained that the horrible job market in Michigan has trapped in her miserable job! I reassured her that she is not alone and there are ways to help her situation.
In fact, many employees feel squeezed by their employers in this dreadful job market. Many companies expect employees to do more work for less money. And the current job market gives employers the power to make unreasonable demands with little fear that the employee will say “no”. How do you know if you are being squeezed by your employer? Ask yourself the following questions:
Are you expected to work more than 8 hours a day for no additional compensation?
Are you expected to work weekends to complete projects?
Are you expected to be available via email, voicemail or text messaging outside of normal business hours?
Have your family and friends commented on your long work hours and lack of attendance at social functions?
Are you always thinking about the work you didn’t get done and the work you need to do?
Do you lose sleep over your job?
Does your employer make comments about the job market and how thankful you should be to have a job?
Do you feel unappreciated by your employer?
Have you been asked to take a pay cut and work longer hours?
Are doing the job of more than one person?
If you have answered “yes” to two or more of these statements, then you may be being squeezed by your employer. In most cases, there are simple things you can do to better your situation:
1) Set limits to the amount of hours you are willing to work per week. And stick to it.
2) Shut off your cell phone and close your laptop when you are home for the evening. If you are unable to do that, then don't reply to any business related correspondence.
3) Ask your employer to hire additional staff.
4) Don’t take on any extra projects. If you are doing the work of two people, your employer will not hire any additional staff. When the employer realizes that projects are not being completed, he will be forced to hire someone to help you.
If you feel like your situation can’t be bettered, then it is time to dust off your resume and start looking for a new job. Despite the news reports, many companies in our area are hiring. You may have to look a little harder, but you will find them.