What to Do When You’re Feeling Undervalued at Work

feeling undervalued worker at work

Feeling undervalued and feeling that you’re not being recognised for the effort that you put into your job at work can be the difference between feeling motivated and feeling that nobody cares. Whether we like to admit it or not, how our boss sees us can make a world of difference to how we feel in the workplace. If we feel valued by our employer, we’re more likely to not only feel happier but also work more efficiently.

Brigette Hyacinth, author of Leading the Workforce of the Future, says that a good boss can motivate or discourage their staff depending on their leadership approach, with many employees choosing to leave a job (PDF) if they feel that their hard work isn’t being positively acknowledged. 

‘Employees don’t leave organisations,’ says Hyacinth, who has built up over 3 million followers on social media by regularly encouraging employees to not feel disheartened over workplace obstacles. ‘They leave bad bosses.’

But while we shouldn't just work for the sake of seeking praise, the fact is that feeling undervalued at work can be an unenthused and lonely experience. So, if you find yourself feeling undervalued at work and don’t know what to do, try following these top tips and put that self-worth back into your work life.

1. Talk to your boss

While you may be at work struggling with feeling undervalued, your manager probably thinks that everything between you both is fine and dandy. In not providing feedback or giving you an appraisal for a job well done, a lack of vocal recognition on your manager’s part doesn’t necessarily mean that they underappreciate you.

On the contrary, you could be doing such a great job that the standard of productivity you produce has become the norm, with nothing less expected of such an efficient employee. But while it's great that your manager expects you to continue performing at such a high rate, a little appreciation now and again can go a long way.

If your boss is unaware of their lack of communication, it would be a good idea to speak to your boss about it.

How that conversation sounds will depend on the scenario that you find yourself in. For many workers, feeling undervalued at work can stem from feeling like they’re being underpaid for the duties that they’re performing. Are your salary and day-to-day duties contributing to you feeling undervalued? Do you feel like that the amount of work you produce does not equal to the amount of money you currently earn?

If the answer to these questions is ‘yes’, then it’s clear that there’s more to your current struggle than just not getting feedback for a job well done. While not being reciprocated financially will always make you feel undervalued, sometimes the feeling of a job well done can be more than enough.

Telling your boss how you’re feeling may not be a comfortable discussion for some. When going into a conversation with your manager and letting them know how you feel, it’s always best to go into the discussion smart and prepared and really get a handle to why you’re feeling undervalued in the first place.

2. Don’t let overthinking negatively affect your mental health

As cliché as it sounds, honesty really is the best policy.

Feeling undervalued shows that you need some kind of reassurance from your boss, and, ultimately, this is the root cause of you feeling unappreciated. By not telling your manager how you feel, not only are you festering unnecessary resentment towards your employer, but you also risk the potential of negatively affecting your mental health.

How to stop your self-overthinking is a skill in itself. Ask yourself why feedback is so important to you. And does the opinion of another person define your overall work ethic and motivation? By being honest with how you feel, not only are you questioning yourself why you’re feeling undervalued but, in the process, also opening an honest conversation with your manager.

3. Be positive by spreading positivity in the workplace

Businesses have made great strides in highlighting inclusivity in recent years, with more employers looking at employee recognition schemes as positive tools to promote the achievements of their team.

While seeking praise and feedback from a manager may seem like you’re merely fishing for compliments, there’s also a positive aspect of being acknowledged for your hard work in the workplace in that it can motivate you to want to work even harder and better the next time.

However, if a manager isn’t going to be forthcoming with positive feedback, it doesn't mean that staff can’t acknowledge one another on a job well done. Lead by example by contributing to a positive work environment and encourage your work colleagues to reciprocate with kindness by thanking them for their hard work.

Creating a positive and nurturing work environment could really make a world of a difference to feeling undervalued and even increase your productivity and, ultimately, make you reconsider how you feel.

4. Seek credit when credit is due

Credit should be given when credit is due, and when an important task or project has been completed, it’s rightly so that you should be acknowledged for the part that you played in that achievement. However, if your coworkers, or indeed your manager, dare to take credit for your work, then not only do you have a right to feel undervalued but also rather annoyed.

While most of us work for financial stability or social responsibility, when it comes to the tasks and the routines that we perform in the workplace, there must be a certain amount of passion or conviction to successfully ensure a task is completed. And when it comes to the successful completion of said task, all those involved must receive their credit.

When finding yourself in a scenario when the credit has been unfairly snatched from you, it’s important to always remain professional when putting your point across. While understandably this can make you feel undervalued and not part of a team, it’s always important to not react improperly when putting your case forward.

5. Consider moving on

When all is said and done, where we work does make a difference. If all other possible avenues have been explored and yet you still find yourself gripping with the secluded feeling of being undervalued, then you have to re-evaluate your options.

For many, leaving a job isn’t a decision to take lightly and should really be given all the consideration that it needs. Changing a job while you’re employed can always prove to be tricky; however, it can also provide you with the opportunity to think about your next steps carefully without the urgency of desperately needing to seek employment.

When looking at potential job opportunities, make sure you expertly research the company first while highlighting aspects of the role that fit what you’re looking for. Because you’re seeking opportunities elsewhere due to feeling undervalued, play close attention to the staff culture and find out if they have some kind of employee recognition system that highlights productivity and rewards achievement.

You can also learn a lot about how a company treat their staff by reading first-hand accounts of people who have worked in the business. Review sites like Glassdoor offer a unique way to get a glimpse into how a company is run from the personal preceptive of its staff members under the veil of anonymity and can be a good insight into the type of management style you may want to avoid.

While receiving praise from your boss on a job well done can certainly help boost your self-worth and morale at work, it’s important not to become reliant on the constant admiration of your manager. While positive feedback certainty is great, doing a good job for a role that you’re paid and expected to do is even better.

Ultimately, the satisfaction of doing a good job and having a good wage should give you the value and validation that you need and, more importantly, what you deserve.

Are you feeling undervalued for your efforts at work? What are you doing to cope with and resolve the situation you’re in? Share your experiences and tips with us in the comments section below!

This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 29 December 2016.