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Better Pay and Hours? Forget About it.

Better Pay and Hours? Forget About it.

Alison Green | Ask A Manager

August 10, 2010

A reader writes:

I have been working at the same job going on four years and I am still part-time. This would not really bother me other than the fact that there are a few guys, younger than myself, who get better hours and better pay and haven’t been there nearly as long as I have.

It’s not that I don’t work, I bust my butt every single day and my manager sees this, but still refuses to put me on full-time or give me a better wage. The only reason I can think of why these other guys are getting everything over me is because they are just like my manager, they drink, party, etc. I do not do any of these things.

I’ve approached him a few times about a better wage or full-time, every time it’s the same about the wage, “the company can’t afford it.” This I understand. The thing that gets me with this is when I ask about being put on full-time, he tells me there is a “hiring freeze” and he cannot. Then a week or so later there is a new guy/lady working full-time making better money than myself and they are not worth a cuss. They won’t work and they are all ARROGANT! I’m at my wits end!

What should I do? Should I stick it out here or quit? I’m in college and barely making it right now, money-wise, but I have time to work more, but as I said my manager refuses to help me out!

Something’s going on here, but I don’t know what it is. Your manager clearly isn’t being straight with you — telling you there’s a hiring freeze and then hiring someone else a week later, and not even bothering to come back to you to explain. The fact that he doesn’t circle back to you to provide some sort of context sends a pretty disrespectful message.

If you want to give it one final shot, you can say to your manager: “I’m confused. When we’ve talked in the past about the possibility of me going full-time, you’ve told me there’s a hiring freeze, but each time someone new has been hired soon after that. This makes me think that something else is going on — is it something about my performance or something that you’d like to see me doing differently? I’d really like feedback if it is.” And if he denies there are any performance problems, then say, “Can you tell me what I can do to work toward full-time hours?”

It’s possible that you’ll learn something you didn’t know, about something he doesn’t like about your work. But I wouldn’t count on it — it sounds like this guy is either (a) a wimp who can’t bring himself to tell you that the quality of your work isn’t good enough or (b) a jerk who just doesn’t like you and is setting your hours and pay based on that.

At some point, you need to assume that nothing will change, since all signs are screaming that pretty loudly and really, it’s been four years. And so you need to answer this question for yourself: Assuming that nothing is ever going to change, do you want to stay or leave? For all I know, maybe you want to stay anyway. Maybe you like the work well enough, despite these aggravations, that the answer is to accept that nothing is going to change but that you’re going to continue working there anyway.

But if not, then why on earth wouldn’t you look elsewhere? After all, you can’t make your manager do what you want, but you do have power in this situation — the power to decide whether or not to accept what he’s offering you.

Often in these situations where people feel angry and feel mistreated, they lose sight of the fact that they do (usually) have options, and I think that’s happening here. If you don’t like what’s being offered, go out there and see what other offers the world has for you. You might find one you like a lot better — or you might decide that you’d rather stay put, despite the current terms. But you’ll be picking it deliberately, rather than just accepting it by default and feeling frustrated.

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