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In the face of layoffs and pay cuts, keep perspective

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in Your Office Coach

Q: “I am sick of being overworked and unfairly treated. Several months ago, half the people in our office were laid off, and the remaining hourly workers were cut from 40 hours to 32. The salaried employees had their pay reduced by 8% and assumed some of the hourly duties. As a salaried person, I am now doing more work for less pay.

“Lately, I’ve noticed that certain hourly employees seem to be working full time again, which means they no longer have a pay cut. Also, the owner has his sister working here. She is mildly retarded and contributes nothing to the business. While she slowly putters along, the rest of us are running around like headless chickens.

“The owner said everyone would be affected by this downturn, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. I am extremely angry about this and tired of being abused.” Disgusted

A: Please allow me to suggest a slight shift in perspective. Although I am quite sympathetic to the stress created by lower pay and a larger workload, your unemployed former co-workers might be considerably less understanding. After all, your paycheck may be smaller, but at least you have one. Some of them might happily tolerate this “abuse” if they could get their benefits back.

You might also consider that your hourly colleagues actually lost a much greater percentage of pay than you did. If their hours are now increasing, that could be a sign that business is picking up, which would be good news for everyone.

If the owner is continuing these austerity measures in an effort to preserve jobs, then your anger seems misplaced. On the other hand, if he is personally raking in the dough while using the downturn as an excuse to slash salaries, then you have every right to feel resentful.

When it comes to his sister, however, you should really get a grip and show a little compassion. This woman has a disability and needs some productive activity. Her brother owns a business and wants to help her. Criticizing him for this kindness seems awfully small-minded.

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