How to Cut Your Hours and Keep Close to Full-time Pay (Yes, You Read That Right)

More personal time in the parkOne of the goals of the WorkOptions website is to expand your thinking about what’s possible—your options—as you create your flexible work life of more time freedom.

Family time. Personal time. Learning time. Whatever it is, we all need more time freedom. But trading a chunk of money for more time is not always practical. Is there another way? Yes.

Once in a while, I get reports from users of the Part-time Proposal Package who were able to negotiate a 32-hour workweek without any pro-rated reduction in pay. In other words, they cut their hours and kept their full pay. Now that’s a cool option!

How is This Possible?

With a keen strategy and skillful negotiation (remember, everything’s negotiable, and anything’s possible), it’s a real possibility.

It worked for me, too. In my example, I negotiated to cut my hours by 20% to have a four-day workweek, but retained 95% of my salary.

The Initial Request: Cut My Hours But Not My Pay

Way back in the 1990s, while working full-time in a salaried healthcare position at a non-profit clinic for immigrants, I proposed to the Executive Director (ED) a four-day workweek without a cut in my compensation.

The response? He was stridently opposed. (The ED was a strident guy all-around—feared by many—so his response was consistent with his style.)

As with any negotiation, part of the strategy is to be armed with options, or alternate positions. And I was.

Further in the Negotiation…

Within the same hour of negotiations—during which I made a solid case for the market value of my job role—I instead suggested a 5% reduction in pay to go along with my request for a 20% reduction in hours.

He agreed! Almost readily. Full employee benefits intact besides. Later, I concluded that saving money, even a relatively small amount, is what appealed to him. Every dollar counts in a non-profit.

I was ecstatic. When figured on an hourly basis, this was essentially a double-digit raise. That, along with one weekday off each week, kicked up my job satisfaction several notches.

Could You Do It?

It sounds gutsy. And it is. But maybe you could pull it off. How well it goes may depend on:

Timing — Can you time your negotiation with your regularly scheduled performance review and merit raise? (That allows you to negotiate for time off instead of money.) Or after successfully completing a major project with which your manager is well-pleased? Or before the start of an important project where your role is crucial to success?

Your perceived value — Is there a shortage of candidates in your job category or do you offer a unique combination of skills and experience that strengthens your negotiating leverage? I had both of these factors in my favor.

Which work responsibilities you will retain — A four-day workweek is favored over a three-day workweek for better retention of your key responsibilities, and will likely allow you to ask for more of what you want.

The quality of your relationship with your manager — A supportive and appreciative manager is a key factor. In my case, my immediate supervisor was supportive but had virtually no power to decide. The real decision-maker—the Executive Director with whom I had to cut the deal—had a combative management style. Nonetheless, I was able to swing the deal. (And in case you’re wondering, yes, I was nervous.) So remember, anything is possible!

Here’s a good scenario: You’ve been at your job for more than three years with the same manager with whom there is a high degree of mutual respect and good communication. There’s been formal (performance reviews, raises) and informal acknowledgment of your high-level responsibilities and achievements.

That’s a favorable environment for proposing a four day workweek with less than a 20% salary cut.

Especially if you are the only one in your job category and if you restructure your job to continue to maintain key responsibilities.

I recognize the limitations imposed on civil service workers and union members in striking such a deal. But if you’re not in those categories, the opportunity is ripe for creative flexible work and salary negotiations.

What’s Your Next Move?

Do a realistic assessment of your negotiating position. If it rates strong, present a solid case for reduced hours while keeping close to full-time pay.

The Fastest Way to Get Flexible Work Approved

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