TGC’s “Thorns & Thistles” column seeks to apply wisdom with practical advice about faith, work, and economics. If you have a question on how to think about and practice your work in a way that honors God, let us know at [email protected]
A handful of my coworkers have recently left for greener pastures. As a result, my job responsibilities have doubled, though my position title and salary are the same. My boss says he intends to hire replacements, but I don’t think he’ll be very motivated to hire while I’m doing both jobs. I’m capable of doing all the work, yet it seems unfair for my boss to expect me to do two jobs for the same pay. I’m trying to obey Colossians 3:23 to work for the Lord and not for men. Does this mean I should just accept the situation and do the very best work I can?
“Do more with less.” I’ve heard this often throughout my work experience. And with the job turbulence due to COVID-19 over the past two years, I imagine this is happening in many places.
It doesn’t quite seem fair for one person to take on the responsibilities of someone else as well as her own work for the same pay, does it? Though we can understand the pressures your boss is under, hiring someone for one job and then changing the responsibilities with no change in compensation seems misleading at best.
And after a while, doing more with less isn’t realistic. Humans have limitations.
Let’s reflect on some truths that can set us free, then I’ll talk about strategies moving forward.
The truth is our work environment is affected by Adam’s sin (Rom. 8:19–21). It’s made worse by our own sins and those of our bosses, coworkers, and customers. Things aren’t always going to be fair or made right.
After a while, doing more with less isn’t realistic. Humans have limitations.
That doesn’t mean we should be content with unfairness. The Bible is full of references to right business practices (Lev. 19:35–36; 25:14; Prov. 20:23; Amos 8:4–5; Matt. 5:37; Col. 3:9–10; 1 Tim. 6:10). One way we push against sin is to winsomely advocate for fair treatment for ourselves and others.
Remember, we do this as people who live under authority. One of those authorities is our employer. Whether or not he or she is a believer, we’re to submit to our employer as the leader Christ has placed over us (Eph. 6:5–8; Col. 3:22–25). When we can no longer submit to that employer, perhaps we should consider moving on.
So how can you graciously advocate for fairness? Before you talk with your employer, you’ll need to have all your facts in line. You’ll have to convince him your complaint is valid and it’s in his best interests to address it.
You assessed that your job responsibilities have doubled. Can you quantify what this means to your boss? Has your geographic territory or client list doubled in size? Are you having to write or edit twice as much? Are you teaching twice the number of classes or have your students increased by 100 percent? Are you supervising a team twice the size you used to have?
If the workload or your quotas haven’t objectively doubled, can you use a more subjective measure? Is your job now twice as stressful? Are the increased expectations at work taking a toll on your health or your family? For example, are you no longer able to go to the gym, cook dinners, or spend time with your spouse or children the way you used to?
Once you’re able to articulate the effects of your employer’s decision to delay hiring a replacement, you can then formulate a humble approach to asking for change. You should acknowledge his authority over you and at the same time ask him to consider either hiring a replacement or increasing your salary so you can be compensated for your additional hours. (The extra money, in turn, may allow you to hire a nanny or a house cleaner to cover some of the tasks you used to do at home.)
One way we push against sin is to winsomely advocate for fair treatment for ourselves and others.
You should also think about what it may cost you if your boss isn’t able or amenable to change. If he doesn’t agree to your proposal, are you prepared to leave? Or is there a temporary or partial solution you could suggest—for example, hiring temporary help or paying a one-time bonus?
“Adversity often becomes a spur for creative change and discovery of new places where God is calling us to serve,” Douglas Schuurman wrote. On the other hand, “Restless discontent with one’s present sphere . . . may not be a valid indicator of God’s call to a new sphere. It may indicate the need for renewed prayer and obedience within the existing sphere.”
How can you tell the difference? Remember, we serve a God who isn’t a God of confusion but of direction and leading (Prov. 3:6).
Focus on God
I challenge you to do something radical. Get your mind off the job for just a bit and focus on God. Worship him. Talk to him. Enjoy him. Remember his past faithfulness (Deut. 2:7). Remind yourself how much you depend on him and how good he is.
Then pay attention to the dissatisfaction you feel. There may be a purpose in it. God may be preparing you to begin another chapter in your life, either at this employer or another. Either way, God will give you wisdom to make the best decision in his time (James 1:5). He’ll provide for you and your family (Matt. 6:31–33). He’ll give you the strength for the challenges of each day (Isa. 41:10).
In everything, he is working for our good (Rom. 8:28).