Q: Our salaries were recently slashed by half owing to the harsh business environment occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, no explanation was given to staff before the pay cut as effected. The HR director said that the departmental heads would give us more information but when we approached the boss, he was very rude to us. How should we deal with such?
This is a difficult season for both employers and employees because most organisations are experiencing sharp declines in revenue. What you should understand is that the organisation can only pay full salaries if the money is available.
Salary discussions can be quite emotive. Therefore, by avoiding the conversation, your boss opted for the easier route, which is unfortunate. As an employee, you have the right to information, and this should be offered to you individually or together with your colleagues so that you can ask for clarification on any concerns you may have.
Remember that your boss is also an employee, and may be affected by the reduction. Therefore, be empathetic and understand that some managers find it hard to communicate difficult decisions. Do not blame him, seek clarification from your HR manager.
I note that you are speaking for your colleagues. Unless you are a recognised leader of a union, desist from handling this issue collectively. I suggest you let each of your colleagues handle the issue individually. You might be seen as a ringleader, and this might be viewed as defiance to management’s decision.
Make new financial plans now that your income has reduced, and discuss this with your family so that you can jointly come up with ways of reducing the household expenditure.
During this period, you should focus on supporting your employer by delivering on your role. Most companies are effecting pay cuts on employees for the first time, so mistakes are bound to be made during the process. Don’t blame your supervisor for this one incident.
Regardless of the feedback you get from HR, view the glass as half full. At least you have a pay slip at the end of each month. I know many who would be content to earn a fraction of your current salary. Count yourself lucky and appreciate your employer for offering you a salary, albeit reduced.
Jane Muiruri - Senior HR Manager, Nation Media Group