In response to global financial pressures, retail companies have introduced measures to reduce costs by cutting staff allocations to individual outlets. On the basis of interview data from four employees of a large retail organization, this paper employs an ideographic case-study approach to illustrate how the processes linking job characteristics to job-related strain and well-being (e.g. appraisal, action regulation, coping, resource utilization) unfold within four individual workers, as they attempt to manage perceived increases in demands resulting from staff cuts. We highlight the importance that these employees place on their own psychological resources (e.g. self-efficacy) and coping mechanisms (e.g. disengagement) in dealing with these changes, as well as how the perceived availability or absence of job resources (e.g. social support, decision authority, organizational justice) influences their ability to cope with increased demands. We use the insights gained from the case studies to illustrate the value of integrating multiple theoretical perspectives towards achieving a nuanced understanding of the intricacies involved in these experiences and to suggest ways in which the coping capacities of individual employees might be increased. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.