When the news broke late last week that Cygnus Business Media had announced to employees through an internal memo that their salaries will be cut by 7.5 percent, and that hourly workers will be put on a 37-hour workweek at least through the end of the year, one of our first thoughts was what the early- to mid-career staffers there would do: Grin and bear it, or quit?
It remains to be seen how things at Cygnus will shake out. In the meantime, we informally polled a small handful of assistant/associate-level magazine types throughout the industry to see how they’d react if faced with a mandatory salary reduction. Not surprisingly, every respondent indicated that they would find the situation offensive.
"I’m passionate about what I do and willingly work 12-hour days with no overtime, so I’m already sacrificing a lot," an associate editor at a national women’s magazine tells Folio:. "I can definitely see something like this turning me into a disgruntled worker for sure."
Other respondents indicated that their confidence in their magazine/company would be shaken. "Unless guarantees were made to compensate for my pay cut, I would really question my future within the company as well as the direction and stability of the company itself," an editorial assistant at another national women’s magazine says. Those guarantees could include compensation through work benefits such as extra vacation days. She’d also want access to her company’s annual fiscal plan and to receive notice of when her salary would be restored, she says.
The Cygnus memo indicated also that senior company managers will see a pay cut. Although the memo didn’t say exactly how much, the cut is reportedly 25 percent. So, would sharing the burden with senior management ease some of our respondents’ worries? "I’d still have the same concerns about the health and stability of the company, but at least the execs also are taking the hit-and are showing commitment to get through the difficult time without laying off employees," an associate editor at a national sports magazine says.
Would taking a pay cut be enough to make employees start looking for a new job? "I’d consider a job change," a production coordinator for a magazine group in Connecticut says. "If the company is cutting my salary now, who says they won’t cut it again?"
"I would definitely explore outside job opportunities," the editorial assistant says. "It would be difficult to continue feeling motivated. More importantly, I believe it’s important to find an employer that assumes responsibility for its financial missteps and does not place that responsibility on the shoulders of its employees."