If you feel undervalued at work, you’re far from alone.
Even as the job market improves and more Americans are finding work than at any point in recent memory, feeling properly appreciated at work is an increasingly rare condition.
Recent statistics on the matter are startling. Nearly half of American employees report feeling underappreciated. Two thirds of workers in the U.S. are disengaged. Three out of four say their boss is the worst part of their job.
Those are big numbers, and they point to a question worth asking — what can I do about it?
Unless you’re the CEO, you won’t have the ability to snap your fingers and make immediate changes to your work environment. But there are some proactive steps everybody can take to feel more valued on the job.
Evaluate your expectations
Before you can take active steps towards feeling valued at work, you need to set the level by defining what “proper value” means to you. Think of the process more as defining “what I need” rather than “what they need to do.”
When answering this question, it’s important to be realistic about the commitments you need from your managers. After all, they’re only human. Try to value their perspective in the same way you’d prefer them to value yours. If you show that you have empathy for their needs, they’ll be more likely to have empathy for yours when you speak to them.
There are a lot of ways for people to feel undervalued at work. By defining how exactly you don’t feel valued, you’ll be able to have conversations and make plans that are based on a complete understanding of your current situation.
When workers feel underappreciated, they often cite the following reasons:
Which of these apply to your situation, and how so?
Talk it out, but bring a plan
Once you’ve taken the steps to define what you need and what you’re not getting, you’ll be ready to have a conversation with your manager about how to address the situation. Just don’t walk into that conversation empty-handed.
Management usually responds well when you make their jobs easier by approaching them with solutions, not just problems. By making a plan before talking about how you’d prefer to feel more valued, you’ll put yourself on better footing for any conversation, all while demonstrating your value as an employee. Your plan should use objective data and/or verifiable actions to focus on a specific area of need, such as:
Try not to bring everything at once. You can start with an item that’s causing you the most frustration or lead with the plan that you feel has the best chance of success.
Keep in mind that each plan is not a list of demands and that the initial conversation where you introduce your plan is not a confrontation. The idea is to create a discussion that’s based on what people do rather than how people feel. Don’t forget the larger goal, which is working toward an agreement that works for all parties involved.
Reinvest in your own wellbeing
No matter how proactive you are about being appreciated at work, an unfortunate fact of adult life is that some of your wants and needs will go unmet. This can be a source of justifiable frustration, but you can reduce the amount of frustration it causes you by focusing on your own wellbeing.
Remind yourself that you have value. That’s an undeniable fact and nothing that happens at work can change that. Take pride in doing each task as well as you can and try to depend on less external sources of validation. When you feel yourself getting frustrated, take time to reset, reflect on your progress and reconnect with everything in your life that makes you feel grateful. If you approach your job in this way, when inevitable frustrations arise, you’ll be more able to take them in stride, maintain your positivity and work toward solutions that help everybody.
Look into other options
If you still feel undervalued in your current position, and find that it’s affecting your ability to maintain a positive mindset, it may be time to examine other job options. When you do, make sure to remember the work you’ve done reflecting on your needs, and insist that your next job puts you in a better position.
Not sure where to start? Try a simple conversation. You can talk to an expert recruiter to find out what the current job market looks like for people with your skills and experience — including what companies are doing to make their employees feel properly valued.