Workload’s disconnect with pay

The majority of executives and managers nationwide have seen the amount of work they do, the number of hours they work and their responsibilities increase significantly compared to two years ago. But during that same time period, only 10 per cent have seen their total compensation increase significantly, according to a survey of senior executives and managers by NFI Research.

It also appears that slightly more of the burden of increased workload is falling on the managers rather than on the senior executives, though the compensation for executives has increased significantly more for them.

Workload has increased significantly more in the largest companies, those with more than 10,000 employees. Meanwhile, compensation has increased significantly mostly in companies with fewer than 500 employees.

Economic pressures of the past few years have caused many organizations to trim staff while at least maintaining, if not increasing, production. This has left workers at all levels with more to do.

“Doing more with less is becoming both figurative and now literal, even among senior executive ranks,” said one survey respondent.

Said another: “The company wants us to accomplish more e-business initiatives, but with the same amount of people. I end up doing more and more of the administrative, number crunching and training-of-users roles since we have no resources to pick those up.”

The price of competence

The reality is that in many cases corporate downsizing has forced an increased work burden on the best and the brightest in the workforce. “The price of showing competence is increasing responsibility and work,” according to one survey respondent.

The fundamental problem with this situation is that it can be a short-term situation, at best. Executives and managers cannot effectively function on a high-speed treadmill for extended periods of time. Judgments suffer and by their trying to do too much, an organization risks mistakes.

“Things could not be more intense,” said one respondent. “It’s impossible to keep track of all the work and it’s growing exponentially.”

In addition to working more hours, personal pressure can be increased because of added duties. “I have more responsibility, my decisions have more of an impact on the bottom line, but it does not necessarily take up more of my time,” said one respondent. “The number of hours is not necessarily commensurate with responsibility level.”

Leaders at organizations should take the time to check if those who have taken on additional work over the past few years are being fairly compensated for that work. However, that is not always the case.

“In the quest for continual improvement and increased productivity, much of the human-centre has been removed from business,” said one respondent. “Our energies are devoted to an ever-increasing set of demands while we fail to nurture the most basic strategic advantage of any company — our employees. It is time to return to leadership rather than reactive management.”

The impact on businesses of not keeping compensation in line with workload can be felt on a company’s biggest asset, its employees.

“It has become an all-too familiar trend: take on more work, have your pay cut by a percentage in order to keep the company in business and have a job,” said one respondent. “A large number of people in the work force are rapidly reaching burnout.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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