Overworked and Underpaid


[Image from pixabay.com]

I’m sure the title of this post caught the attention of quite a few people. Well the sad reality is this is more often than not the song that many working individuals sing. Especially through the after effects of the recession as employers have been forced to do more with less. This set back then translated into one person doing the job of two…maybe even three…people.

Well I’ve been in this situation a few times over. And no…I’m not playing the “woe is me” card. (Unless it can get me a few perks…just kidding. 🙂 ) But I’m here to say I completely understand. If you’re currently going through this, you are not alone. In fact, I’m sure there’s quite a few folks sailing in that boat with you.

In one particular position I found this to be true way more often than not. In order to protect the identity of the innocent (or any agreement I may have signed upon leaving the company), I’ll avoid too much detail about the employer. Also note that I’ll leave the sex of those involved ambiguous in efforts to further conceal the innocent. (Starting to sound like an episode of Law and Order.)

As far as the company I worked for, I loved it overall. Matter of fact it may have been one of the best employers I’ve worked for to date. However, we were small in numbers but had to produce an incredible amount of work. And during busy periods I barely had time to hear myself think…maybe even breathe! It was that “cray cray” (crazy).

Luckily I happened to have a very open and supportive supervisor. (I know some of you are saying “Well I don’t!” but stick with me here.) He/she was very understanding that my work load was intense but due to the budget (yeah…the “b” word) there wasn’t much he/she could do. So this left me to be very strategic and practice an extreme amount of patience in order to make it work during my time employed with the company.

Here are a few tips on moves I made to help me cope with the pressure.

1. I asked for a title change.

If you find yourself in one role but are doing work beyond that position, ask for a title change. What that potential title may be depends on your department and what the chain of command structure may look like. In my role with the prior employer I was hired as a coordinator and reported to a director. There was no other stair step position in between us. So I asked for my title to be changed to a manager. At the time, I didn’t mind if I got the title without the increase in pay. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely thought I deserved more money for the work I was doing. Though my sights were set on the experience it would allow me to put on my resume.

Fortunately, my supervisor was able to receive approval for my title change and an increase in pay. (Score!) However, you should be aware my friends, most people find themselves in a situation where they are overworked and underpaid (more than likely) because there are financial limitations within the company. So let your goal be the more senior title and the pay increase will come when the timing is right. If you can get the increase now, super. If not, don’t trouble your little heart…it will come. Who knows, that title change may land you your next job which may be a better fit and a significant amount more in pay.

2. I talked solutions.

While I wanted to complain so badly to my supervisor, I didn’t. Now my colleagues that I had a close relationship with, that was different. (Shout out to my former lunch and happy hour buddies with listening ears!) But when it came to the professional relationship with my supervisor and getting him/her to hear me out, there was no time for complaining. I went into our one-on-one meetings undoubtedly with an agenda to talk solutions in an effort to make the work more tolerable for me. But on a larger scale I had hopes to make the department more efficient and not to mention more manageable for my successor. I had a number of solutions but focused on two that would be most helpful to me in that particular role:

a) I asked what options were available to get more help.

I didn’t care if this meant a temp, a part-time employee or a full time employee. I just needed help! It was my effort to show understanding that budget restrictions may not have allowed for the type of help I truly needed but I was willing to compromise.

b) I requested accommodations to my work space.

Now before you judge me to be some spoiled brat that asked for an office on the penthouse suite with a view, that’s not exactly how it went down. My priority was to minimize traffic flow and maximize productivity as a result. To keep it simple – I just needed a more controlled environment so I could do what they hired me to do…work!

Unfortunately I didn’t get the additional staff support or accommodations to my work space. Though I did find that my supervisor had a readily available listening ear when it came to my solutions. Not sure this would have been the case if I had become the chronic complainer of an employee. I didn’t see the benefit of the solution approach when it came to these requests but saw rewards for my good faith efforts manifest in other areas.

3. I took time for myself.

Whether this meant leaving early on a random Friday or taking a staycation, I made sure to take time for myself whenever possible. Since this was quite a demanding job, I didn’t always have the luxury of being able to take off at any moment. Though I always made plans in advance to have some sort of vacation time locked in. It really helps to recharge and escape the daily routine no matter what job you work.

4. I updated my resume.

Now I’m all for trying to make the most of a job before walking away. There’s nothing worse than leaving one undesirable position only to go to another position that will leave you worse off. But when you’ve tried it all and you still find your head in your hands, it could just be time to start thinking about your next move. So document the additional duties beyond your basic job description (hopefully the title change will be included in the update 🙂 ). Tailor this to the types of jobs you want.


I hope you found these tips to be helpful. I know this is an issue that plagues a number of those in the workforce. Stay focused and encouraged. And of course…if you have any tips to share on this topic, please feel free to do so. This community is here to help each other!



  1. Growing up I was told (unspoken word) that your hard work will pay off. Which translates into your employer will pay you what your worth. Let me tell you that’s not the case. I keep notes on my accomplishments, letters from clients, customers or coworkers (don’t be afraid to ask). It helps to go in prepared during your annual performance review.
    And before excepting that new job offer, negotiate well (this maybe another topic). Do your research to find out what the market value of the position and ask for what you deserve!

    1. I really like the idea of having tangible material to back you for a performance review. Nothing like good old proof. Thanks for sharing Lady T. And also…thanks for the blog topic idea! Negotiation is so vital in a new job offer!

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