What to Do When You Feel Undervalued at Work

In the months leading up to leaving my last job, I felt overloaded, burdened and resentful. I was producing what I thought was quality work even while my plate was so full it had started to crack. 

I thought I deserved a parade in my honor for my efforts, but instead it felt like my boss would be better off without me. We know how this story ends, but I now know that instead of wallowing in my feelings of being unrecognized, I should have taken action to get the recognition I needed.

Before getting to the solution, let’s examine the problem. It turns out I’m not the only one whose confidence and joy have been hijacked by a lack of appreciation.

The Workforce Institute at Kronos recently conducted a survey entitled "Do You Feel Appreciated at Work?" The online survey polled 2,030 adults in the U.S. Nearly half (47 percent) of the participants said they either don’t feel appreciated or feel only somewhat appreciated at work.

In fact, when asked what makes them unhappy at work, participants listed a lack of appreciation much more than criticism (26 percent), heavy workload (25 percent), poor work-life balance (23 percent), and someone taking credit for the work they did (22 percent).

Now we know that nearly half of the American workforce feels unappreciated, but what can we do about it?

Changing the work culture of an entire country is impossible, but here are a few ways you can take action to improve your daily work environment.

Nail down your definition of appreciation.

Take some time to figure out what you need to feel appreciated. We all have unique needs, and what makes one employee feel satisfied might be completely different from another. Do you need more direction from your boss? Do you need a better work-life balance? Do you simply need a “thank you” from time to time?

Schedule a meeting with your boss.

Give your boss regular updates about what you're working on and demonstrate that you are a crucial part of the team. After all, you are the only one who really knows what you do all day. If you feel overwhelmed, ask for advice about managing your workload or ask if you can shed a few tasks. This is also a good opportunity to share what you need to feel appreciated.

Take care of yourself.

Try taking walks at lunch to clear your mind and relax. Talk to someone about how you are feeling and ask for advice. Eat healthy foods, drink plenty of water, and be sure to get enough sleep at night to recharge your energy levels. Feeling unhealthy will seriously impact your attitude at work.

Show appreciation.

When someone does something kind for you, say thanks. If a coworker, or boss—they need encouragement too—does a great job at completing a task, tell them. If you show appreciation for others, they'll be more likely to return the favor. Gratitude is a two-way street.

If we grasp that feeling valued is a deep human need, we can better understand the part we play in how we're recognized at work. If you aren't feeling recognized, don't walk storm around, grumpy and irritable. Take action and receive what you deserve.

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