Dear J.T. & Dale: My company just announced that if we want to stay working from home, we will have to reapply for our jobs. They are changing the compensation structure, and I’ve been told they are going to reduce our salaries by 20%. Can they do this? — Lu
J.T.: As an at-will employee, they can fire you at any time and/or change the job structure at any time. Many companies are starting to do so as a result of the pandemic. They want to accommodate employees who wish to stay working from home, but at the same time, the company has to assess its costs. They still have overhead they have to deal with as a result of office leases and associated costs. Giving people the opportunity to work remotely is a way for them to reduce cost while giving people what they want.
DALE: I can’t decide if this “reapply” nonsense reeks more of desperation or just bureaucracy. Then again, neither of those is an appealing long-term indicator of where your career is headed with your current employer. Sure, some executives find it galling that having some remote employees means underutilized office space. But so what? That rent is in the budget. So, what’s the real problem? Are the company’s sales declining? Do they have inflated supply or labor costs that they can’t pass along? Either of those are dreaded red alert signals for the future of the company. And, zooming out a bit, it’s always a bit worrisome if an employer is suddenly extremely focused on cost reduction. Yes, cost control is important, but that should be primarily accomplished with increasing productivity and with innovation. Your ideal employer will be one that puts its emphasis on employees, growth and innovation. The best employers and the best employees all want those same things. That’s where the energy is, where people want to come to work and want to do something significant.
J.T.: While I’m not as alarmed as Dale is about the “reapply” requirement, I do think he has a point — that they may be doing this to disguise an effort to reduce the pay of remote employees and that way share in the savings the remote employee gets from not having to commute, buy clothes for work or eat lunches out.
DALE: Or, it could also mean that they don’t value remote employees as much as on-site ones. Either way, it’s time to start looking around for companies who are embracing flexible work schedules.
Dear J.T. & Dale: A company I always wanted to work for has two jobs posted that are very different, but I could do both. Should I just apply to both, or should I pick one and hope for the best? — Geno
J.T.: The answer is, it depends. Some companies don’t like it when you apply to multiple jobs at their company. Others have no problem with it. The best solution is to find somebody who works in recruiting or human resources at the company and reach out to them. You could use a tool like LinkedIn to do this. Message them and explain the situation and ask them if it is okay to apply to both positions or if they feel you should only apply to one. The upside to this is that you will get a clear answer of what to do; but, even better, it’s more likely they will pull your application from the pile and take a look once you do apply.
DALE: In an ideal world, what J.T. has just suggested would work smoothly. But, I wouldn’t count on it. Moreover, there is some urgency — the jobs could get filled or the number of applicants could get cut off. That’s why I’d go ahead and apply for whichever job is better for you. (If you can’t decide which it is, then flip a coin.) Then, pursue getting permission to apply for the second job. However, don’t let that drag out. Odds are, they’ll won’t know you applied for both or won’t care; they might even like it. Press ahead.
Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a career coach and the founder of the leading career site www.workitdaily.com. Dale Dauten is founder of The Innovators’ Lab and author of a novel about H.R., “The Weary Optimist.” Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via email, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803. (c) 2022 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.