If a feeling of being underappreciated at work is causing you stress or burnout, you’re not alone.
A Bonusly survey found that almost 50% of respondents left a position due to feeling undervalued. Almost two-thirds of respondents said they feel underappreciated by their employer. A Gallup poll had similar results, finding that 65% of American workers feel undervalued.
When you work for someone else for a living, it’s frustrating to feel like your contributions don’t matter. But it doesn’t have to end there. If you’re feeling underappreciated at work, you can take these steps to make positive changes.
Consider your expectations
First, you must take a look at your own mindset. While we all want our hard work to be noted, are your expectations realistic, or are you hoping for a little too much fanfare?
Harvard Business Review’s Rebecca Knight says to remember that your coworkers and managers are just as busy as you are. And even the best managers might get overwhelmed with their own duties at times and forget to go the extra mile. Keep context in mind. The appreciation you do receive, even if it’s not what you personally would like, might be well within the norm for the organization.
Indeed also adds to reframe your mindset and look for other signs that you’re being valued. If a manager assigns you to lead a project, that’s a sign of trust, even if that isn’t explicitly stated.
Talk to your boss
Once you’ve evaluated your mindset, it’s time to take action. Perhaps the most direct route is to talk to the person you’d like to feel more appreciation from—your boss. A direct conversation is the best way to air your grievances, but you need to approach the conversation carefully.
Don’t go into the meeting swinging or you’ll risk putting your boss on the defensive, according to Harvey Deutschendorf. Rather than saying you feel underappreciated, say that sometimes you feel your work goes unnoticed. Highlight the things you’ve accomplished and the work of your team and ask for feedback. By focusing on results and uplifting your team members, you’ll appear more genuine and you may receive valuable feedback.
“Let them know that you’d like more feedback moving forward. Also, come prepared with a list of your most recent achievements. That way, you remind your manager about your great work while helping build self-confidence.” –Caroline Castrillon, Forbes
Look to your coworkers
Does it seem like you’re the only one being underappreciated or are your coworkers in a similar boat? Observe how your other coworkers are treated, and you may learn some valuable insights.
If your company culture lacks appreciation or gratitude, become a source of it. Forbes’ Caroline Castrillon says that even simple gestures like a thank you note or recognizing someone’s accomplishments at a staff meeting can start building a culture of appreciation. Once showing appreciation becomes a norm, you’ll quickly find it being reciprocated in your direction.
“One surefire way to get your own work noticed is, “paradoxically,” to “praise and appreciate others.”” –Annie McKee, author
While it’s nice to feel appreciated by your peers, don’t forget the person whose opinion matters most—your own! Finding ways to celebrate your own accomplishments and validate what you’ve done will make things better, and the confidence it brings will benefit you even further.
Writing down and quantifying your accomplishments has the dual value of giving you talking points with your bosses when looking for validation as well as building confidence, writes Jessica Dowches-Wheeler. You aren’t just patting yourself on the back, you’re providing tangible talking points to increase your visibility and get the feedback you desire.
Caroline Castrillon adds that self-motivation is one of the most powerful driving forces we can have. By finding meaning in your work and finding ways to reward yourself, you’ll feel much better even if you aren’t getting the external praise you deserve.
Consider a change
If you’ve adjusted your mindset and taken appropriate action and you’re still feeling undervalued, perhaps it’s time for a change. Your mental health is important, and a good cultural fit with an organization matters.
Sometimes a workplace or a manager is just flat-out toxic. It may be challenging to find a better situation, but that’s what you’ll need to decide. If you do choose to move on, Indeed recommends asking about the relationship between workers and management and about how feedback is delivered in your future interviews.
Don’t be afraid to utilize the resources available to you in order to regain a sense of appreciation. By adjusting your mindset, looking to others for help making changes, and recognizing your own value, you can turn your situation around. Only you can decide whether it’s a situation worth fixing or if it’s time to move on.