Money and Main Street

More work, same pay

Layoff survivors are now stuck with more responsibilities and additional stress - for the same old salary.

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By Jessica Dickler, staff writer

How secure do you feel in your job?
  • Extremely secure
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  • A little insecure
  • Not secure at all

NEW YORK ( -- Still lucky enough to have a job? You're likely doing the work of two or three people, working longer hours and not getting any extra pay.

Workers who have survived the barrage of layoffs over the past year now have to shoulder the burden of increased workloads and heightened stress -- often with no added compensation.

In a recent survey by, 47% of workers reported they have taken on more responsibility because of a layoff within their organization. Thirty-seven percent said they are handling the work of two people and 30% feel burned out.

"Employees are feeling added pressure as they shoulder heavier workloads and strive to maintain productivity levels," Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder, said in a statement.

To accommodate increased responsibility, 34% of workers who kept their jobs after a layoff reported they are spending more time at the office, often working longer hours and more weekends, the survey said.

Cash-strapped employers, struggling to survive a recession, often have no choice but to ask remaining employees to pitch in more. With little in the way of available funds for salary increases, organizations are trying harder to retain top talent in other ways, according to John Dooney, manager of employment and HR strategy for The Society for Human Resource Management.

Dooney said that, in a recessionary economy, "high-potential employees," which are the workers with multiple skill sets that can function in a variety of different settings, are extremely valuable to employers.

But the impact and toll on people needs to be taken into consideration, according to Bob Eubank, executive director of the Northeast Human Resources Association.

"Companies that are just burning people out are making a big mistake," he said. "They have to start thinking about how their organizations are going to look when the recession ends, otherwise it's going to be mighty lonely."

Graphic designer Donna McCarty will likely consider a new position once the job market improves. McCarty, 41, has taken over partial responsibilities for three people who were laid off at her newspaper publishing company in Maryland.

"We've lost about 40 workers in the last two years," McCarty said. Over the last several months, she has had to pitch in to complete the work of the art director, real estate ad designer and IT professional - all laid off last August.

Despite the heftier workload, McCarty has not been compensated for the added responsibilities. "I did ask about my cost of living increase, but was put off," she explained.

Turning lemons into lemonade

The upside for workers like McCarty is that by taking on added responsibility, they are often also gaining valuable new skills that could help down the road.

"If nothing else, with the job market so competitive with designers, I can gain more experience for my résumé," McCarty said of her new roles at the publishing firm.

Being more flexible and stepping up during difficult times can help workers stand out and show their current employers that they're team players, while sharpening new skills at the same time.

"[Employees] should look at it as an opportunity to expand their own professional skills and prove to their organization that they have even more capabilities," agreed Suzanne Bates, author of the book "Motivate Like a CEO."

"That may lead to whole other careers and career opportunities," she said. To top of page

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