So you survived the latest (and purportedly last) round of staff reductions. You feel terrible for some of your laid-off cohorts, but you can’t help but wipe the sweat from your brow and inhale a deep, stress-relieving breath: It’s back to business-as-usual.

Not so fast. Even though your job was spared, it could very well change—for better or worse—in the wake of staff reductions or budget reallocations. In his recent article, “Sorry—you’ve been ‘reclassified,’” TechRepublic columnist Bob Weinstein explored the growing cost-cutting trend of reclassifying employees’ job functions, titles, and even salaries. According to many TechRepublic members, the effects of reclassification range from welcome workplace changes to insulting demotions far worse than being laid off. This article highlights some experiences and opinions from the ranks of the “reclassified.”

After TechRepublic member nicolettep’s organization reduced its staff, she and several other employees with degrees suddenly became overqualified for the jobs that they had been doing for some time.

“Our job descriptions changed…. Reclassification was then used to officially change our job titles and job descriptions.”

Luckily, nicolettep’s and the others’ salaries stayed the same. What did change, however, were compensation raises. Future earnings potential was cut back significantly because of the reclassification. In response to the changes, the majority of the group has moved on to positions with other employers.

Although nicolettep’s situation is not ideal, some consider her lucky to have maintained her salary. In many cases, reclassifications mean reductions in current pay as an alternative to eliminating the employee altogether. Jim Huggy, an enterprise architect, wrote that reducing an employee’s pay to both reduce the firm’s expenses and keep the employee on board is an insulting gesture.

“It’s that old adage: ‘You are lucky to be employed by us. You are not worthy of working anywhere, but we are kind to you and permit you to work for us.’”

If the situation arose, Huggy would much rather endure a layoff than a demoting reclassification. “Hey, lay me off,” Huggy said. “Give me my package; let me walk with my head held high. Who is the HR department to tell me what I am going to do with my career?”

The upside
While it’s highly unlikely that anyone would enjoy a reduction in his or her salary because of job reclassification, some people do gain other types of benefits through the process. In some cases, reclassification lightens the workload for overburdened personnel. For example, when TechRepublic member mahesh_av’s job description was adjusted, his/her daily responsibilities for two separate operations were cut in half.

“It was disappointing at first, but I soon realized that I was able to concentrate on this one task better and perform well enough to earn a higher raise than the one that was drawn up initially for me.”

Demote me, please
Believe it or not, some people actually request reclassification. TechRepublic member Prefbid II once held a low-level executive position for a company that experienced a “major shift” that suddenly reduced the amount of work Prefbid was responsible for. It made sense to reclassify the job, but Prefbid’s boss resisted because the process would involve a three-month “pay parachute.”

“For the next eight months, I pretty much did nothing. (I tried, but because of my title, everyone was afraid I was after their job, and therefore, I was treated like a leper.)”

With idle time to spare, Prefbid did what any bored, dissatisfied employee would do—conduct a job search. Instead of paying for the three-month “pay parachute” to downgrade the position, the company ended up paying Prefbid for eight months of career management.

“I got a great job that is technically a step down from my last job; it’s in a better city, and I’m no longer bored silly.”

What’s your take?

Has you job ever been reclassified? Is reclassification an effective means of cutting costs? Join the discussion and share your thoughts on the issue.