Not everyone is privileged enough to have a career, most just have jobs they must show up to on a daily basis to ensure the bills are paid. Still, even if the job you’re doing isn’t your dream job, dignity, respect, and recognition can go a long way to making it a job you can enjoy on a daily basis.
In this era of “more with less” many employers expect their people to wear many hats. “Lean and mean” is the war cry across many corporate spaces and while I am an advocate for efficiency, I find this culture can produce overworked, over stressed, and underpaid employees. There are many companies who recognize this and do their best to provide their people with benefits and bonuses that make the job worth the stress. On the other hand, there are many companies who don’t. How can you tell if you are undervalued at your current place of employment?
- Your boss constantly asks “what’s your value add?” – I have a big issue with this phrase “value-add” it irks me to no end because it’s an employers way of squeezing blood from a stone. When an employer asks you what your value-add is – it is code for “I want you to do more but I don’t want to pay for it”. Your value is in the work you’ve already been hired to do, whether you’re a waiter or a marketing professional. Anything beyond that – anything additional should come with appropriate compensation. So the next time your boss asks you what “your value-add is” your response (in the most diplomatic and professional way possible) should be “what is the additional compensation for the additional value you are asking for?” If the response is extra paid time off, a bonus or some other agreed upon compensation then you are very lucky to be valued enough to get what you’re worth for all the work you do.
- You go above and beyond with little to no recognition – In a recent study it was found that organizations that give regular thanks to their employees far out perform those that don’t. The moral of the story is, thanks and recognition is important, it matters to people, it matters to morale and it reminds us that we are important in the grand scheme of things. If you are working hard, doing more than is required, improving everyday and no one is saying “thanks, great work” or providing you the recognition you deserve, you should question the culture of the company you are working for. Everyone deserves to be thanked for a job well done!
- Others are getting credit for your work – Nothing is worse than sitting in a meeting and hearing your own idea coming out of someone else’s mouth with absolutely no credit to you. If it is a co-worker or peer, you might be able to rectify it by going to that person and asking if they perhaps forgot to credit you and work it out with them directly. If they are still unwilling to give you appropriate credit, this might be something you have to escalate to your boss. However, If the offending party is your boss, this is a huge red flag that you are not appreciated for your work. Confronting them might help but it might be wise to start updating your resume now.
- You aren’t made to feel part of the team – I thrive off of teamwork, I love working with people and sharing ideas. Most companies should encourage a healthy team dynamic within their ranks. Sometimes though, even adults can become catty, divisive, and cliquey. In this dynamic there is always a “black sheep” of the office – the person who never gets invited to lunch or after work events with the rest of the group. No employer should allow this type of culture to manifest. If you are the “black sheep” of the office and you find your boss is encouraging or enabling this type of behavior, you should definitely try move on to a company that more closely aligns with your own values as a human being.
- You feel under valued – If you are going through this list and shaking your head in agreement you might be under valued where you work. You probably already knew it. If you wake up everyday and dread your work – not because of the work itself – because of the people or culture, it’s time to explore other options. No one should be made to feel demoralized or ignored. You have options, you can speak to your boss, it might be your employer doesn’t realize how careless they are being. Best case scenario, they make it right for you. Worst case scenario, they ask you what your value-add is, if so, see #1 and start looking for work elsewhere.