Doing more with less at work

Iris Harris has two jobs.

First, she was recently promoted from an executive assistant to an office manager for Daszkal Bolton accounting firm when it opened a new office in Sunrise, Fla. Then, she was asked to assume additional duties of an executive assistant.

“I was thinking, ‘Wasn't I promoted from that?'” she says.

But Harris saw the company's need and recognized she could generate revenue for the firm by working with its professionals.

“At the end of the day, we all have the same goal,” she says.

Employees today are often being asked to do more than one job. Sometimes, a layoff has occurred and the work still has to be done.

Other times, there is a need to add staff but the business is taking a cautious approach to hiring in a slow economy.

Workers' response to being asked to do more is often tied to how they feel about their job and their employer. The more engaged employees are in the business and the work they do, the more likely they are to pull together after a layoff or when times are tough.

When companies have to make decisions about combining positions, they should involve employees, says Keith Ayers, author of “Engagement is Not Enough.” Ayers works with CEOs and executive teams to build trust, as president of Integro Leadership Institute, which has offices in West Chester, Pa., and Sydney, Australia.

“If people aren't involved in the decision and it adversely affects an employee, it's going to decrease motivation and decrease productivity,” he says. “The more you stress people, the less productive they are.”

Respect is the foundation of employee engagement.

“The tendency in large organizations is to operate on the assumption that people should be thankful they've got a job. Whatever we throw at you, suck it up,” Ayers says. “If you're treated with disrespect, how switched on are you going to be about work?”