This spring I took a position in a new department at my job that came with some specific perks and significantly higher expectations relating to crunch time. Shortly after joining the department, COVID started having significant ramifications on the industry and we shifted into crunch time. They also announced that the specific perks related to crunch time (bonus pay) were being scrapped for the year as a result of COVID.

I've effectively been working in crunch for about 6 months now and they just announced the reinstatement of the bonus pay for the position, but at this point I'm sufficiently burned out. The work hours are bad, the material I have to deal with is bad, and it's having a significant effect on my life. I've asked for a transfer but have been strung along with empty promises about it getting better. At this point I know that I don't want to stay in this department, but due to my pay level it becomes harder to transfer out and/or downward.

Earlier this week, I found an internal posting for a position that was a couple levels downward in pay. The level is low enough that I would likely take a pay cut to move to this position, but the position is one that I know I would do well in and feel much happier about. I reached out to the person posting the job and asked if there was a problem with the pay scales and reiterated about how I do not mind dropping pay levels, and they suggested I apply for a similar position that I would not want. I applied to the desired position and that has apparently triggered red flags as now every member of management all the way up to directors now knows about my application to transfer to a lower pay position.

How can I navigate this situation as I feel like I'm being targeted and scrutinized over a decision to move out of a position that is just not a good fit. I do not feel like I'm succeeding in this role. Even if I was I'm having difficulty in dealing with the material involved in the role. I would prefer to remain with the company because while I do not enjoy this particular department, I've been with the company for over 10 years and I do enjoy working for the company. I just don't know how to make it clear that I'm miserable in the position and I want to move to a less stressful, less mentally burdened position.

This is strange to me because the company has never really cared much about department transfers and lateral moves before. I've worked in several departments up to this point and have some difficult to acquire credentials in the field, but as this is the first department transfer that includes a pay decrease it seems to also come with a significant stigma.

TLDR: After speaking to management about a transfer, I've applied for a position a few pay levels lower than I am and its sent red flags up through every level of management. They are viewing me as some kind of "suicide watch" and I just want them to understand I merely want to move back to a place where I feel comfortable. How can I navigate this situation and make them understand that this is just a bad fit?

  • it doesn't happen like that, demoting people at their own request rather than as a disciplinary matter is asking for trouble on many levels. Better to get rid of them altogether
    – Kilisi
    Sep 24, 2020 at 14:19
  • I guess I should have clarified that the request is less a demotion in responsibilities and more along the lines of transferring to a new department that pays less than the current one. I'm not looking for less responsibility, just less mental/emotional strain from the material I have to work with.
    – jlowe
    Sep 24, 2020 at 14:25
  • yeah I saw that, makes little difference to perceived issues that would arise. It's better to get rid of a staff member than move them like that. You have to fit someone in their role while they're whining about it somewhere else amongst other potential problems.
    – Kilisi
    Sep 24, 2020 at 14:29
  • 7
    Although it may accurately reflect the attitude of management, it seems absurd to me that a firm would sooner fire a worker with 10 years under his belt and a good record, than simply accept that the promotion has been a mistake, and either return him to his old position, or accept a lateral transfer. It would be enormously foolish to lose a worker with a strong allegiance to the firm and so much firm-specific experience.
    – Steve
    Sep 24, 2020 at 16:32
  • @Steve They probably view him as being at risk of quitting entirely at this point.
    – nick012000
    Sep 25, 2020 at 1:52

1 Answer 1


From your TL;DR it may be to late.

Don't talk about demotion/promotion. Going from A to Manager of A is not a promotion, it's a career choice. Going from XK $ per year to X+YK $ per year is the promotion and can happen without changing position.

What you are requesting is not a "demotion". You are applying to an internal position that better match your skills, expectation of the position and allow you a better work/life balance.

  • 1
    How is becoming a manager of your current group/department not a promotion? An increase in salary is a raise, not a promotion. You can be demoted or promoted and keep your current salary, although they generally do come with salary adjustments.
    – Kat
    Sep 25, 2020 at 21:31
  • Becoming a manager is not necessary a promotion. If you want to become a manager then it is. If you want to expend your primary skills then it's not. Most used example is having good dev become manager. For some it can become a punishment and a professional dead end.
    – JayZ
    Sep 27, 2020 at 9:07

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