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I recently was promoted at my current job and put on a salary. The expectation is that I put in at least fifty hours a week (ten hours per day, five days per week). I have asked this question on other sites and those who respond tend to get hung up on the fact that salaries work in such a way that it's more about completing what is expected of you than like working an exact set number of hours. That is irrelevant in the kind of work that I do, just wanted to get it out of the way before I pose my question. And besides, there is a weird culture at my office where if you finish everything you were working on ten to fifteen minutes before your day is technically over, it's apparently weird to not just sit there and wait until 5:30.

Anyway...I have decided to move back home when my lease is up, for a variety of reasons that I don't want to go into. Fortunately, his house is about an hour away from where I work, and I am able to commute to work and continue my job. However, the fifty hours per week plus ten hours of commuting puts me at a breaking point. How do I talk to my boss about reducing my work hours to 45-40 per week, with the understanding and acknowledgement that I can take a pay cut if necessary, without jeopardizing his trust and confidence in me?

  • it's a small company, actually, but it's an expectation that I work at least 50 hours per week (10 hours per day) – user19270 May 4 '14 at 11:41
  • yes.....that is why I work 50 hours per week. when I was promoted, I was told that my schedule would be 50 hours per week. I want to revise that now (with the understanding that I should / would take a cut in salary) due to a number of reasons including, honestly, burn-out. I feel like I am useless by about 4:00pm but am required to stay until 5:30pm. I really like my job but am starting to resent my boss and not enjoy my work because I feel so exhausted and cranky. – user19270 May 4 '14 at 19:28
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How do I talk to my boss about reducing my work hours to 45-40 per week, with the understanding and acknowledgement that I can take a pay cut if necessary, without jeopardizing his trust and confidence in me?

You indicate that this was "recent" so it's not clear how long you have tried to work the expected 50 hours per week. If you feel you have given it enough time to be sure that you cannot adjust, then you need to be frank with your boss.

You basically need to tell your boss that you cannot fulfill the requirements of your new position. Talk about the things you can do, the things you like to do, but also indicate that the hours simply don't work for you. Explain how you didn't realize it would be such an issue, and how moving has made things worse. Explain how you would like to find a real solution that works for both of you.

See how the conversation goes from there.

It's possible that your boss will offer solutions that could work for both of you. Or your boss may just ask what you want to do. It's also possible that you might need to offer a demotion to your prior position as a solution to your problem.

The key is communication. Nothing will change unless you talk.

In my experience in management for many years, I'm far more willing to compromise (when I can) with someone who talks with me honestly and openly, rather than just denying that there is a problem. I also feel much better when someone with a problem also has a solution in mind, rather than just dumping it on me. That's not always possible, but sometimes you will already have a good idea as to what kind of change you would like to see.

It's no shame if your promotion simply doesn't work out for you. That happens - probably more often than you would think. Sometimes the schedule just doesn't work out. Sometimes the "weird culture" just doesn't work out. There are many possible reasons.

But recognizing that there is a misfit here, and deciding to do something about it, is a really good first step. Follow through with your boss and find a solution now - one way or the other. You will both be better off for it.

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I would try to make the point in the interest of your boss. Effectively, with the additional commute you have a hard time being productive for the entire 50 hours. Effectively, after a short while you would be as productive on 40 hours as you would be on 50 hours simply because of being worn out. Therefore, working 50 hours does not make business sense. Then propose that you scale back your hours (effectively starting to work part time) to compensate for this, reducing your salary.

By framing it in this way, you try and appear to be looking out for the company primarily in stead of looking like a slacker who is only interested in working less (bit of an overstatement).

If you boss agrees to reduce your hours, do take care to also reduce your responsibilities/number of projects. Otherwise, you get paid less while still having the same amount of work that needs to be done.

ps I don't really believe in working for more than 40 hours on a structural basis. Productivity tends to level out or even go down if you work more than that. Also, when working long hours, you run a much higher risk of ending up burnt-out

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