What To Do When You Feel Unappreciated At Work

By Chris Kolmar - Apr. 28, 2021

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Of all the songs about jobs, do you currently find that Johnny Paycheck’s “Take This Job and Shove It” is in your head a lot lately? Being underappreciated at work is one of the worst feelings. You put so much into your job, and nobody seems to recognize it or care. It can make every day a chore, and getting out of bed feels impossible.

So, what do you do if you’re underappreciated and undervalued at work? Because we’re employment specialists at Zippia, we hear it all. While we highly advise you not to tell your boss to shove it, we do have some good ideas and some ways to make your work experience better.

5 Signs You Aren’t Valued at Work

The first step is to determine if you’re really not appreciated or something else is going on. Sometimes things happen in your life that makes you more irritable, and you feel disconnected.

Then, there are times when the people you work with are under stress and simply not paying attention to how they’re treating others. Luckily, these are usually passing situations, and the issue will resolve itself over time.

But if you really feel you’re not being appreciated, then these signs can be clues that that is what’s going on.

  • People take the credit that you deserve. If your boss or others on the team are taking credit for your ideas or your work, then they clearly aren’t valuing your contributions or you as a person.

  • You don’t have a voice in meetings. If you’re never asked to contribute during meetings, or worse yet, you’re always asked to be the one taking notes, that’s a good sign that they don’t respect what you have to say.

  • Your pay pales in comparison. If you’re not making as much as other people with the same responsibilities and duties, then there’s a good chance you’re not appropriately valued.

  • Don’t have appropriate resources. If you need specific tools to do your job but don’t get them, or you have to use outdated versions, it could be because you’re underappreciated. But be cautious here; it could also be because your company doesn’t have the money to buy expensive upgrades.

  • No praise, only criticism. Unless you truly are doing a bad job, you should receive verbal praise and thank yous once in a while for doing your job well. If all you ever hear is criticism, then you’re not being appreciated.

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What to Do If You’re Unappreciated at Work

Our first suggestion is to do just what we suggested above. Stop and take a look at the situation and try to determine if it’s a recurring issue or if there might be something that’s causing a momentary problem. Having a knee-jerk reaction could cause permanent damage to your career.

After close reflection and some time, if you still see signs that your hard work is not appreciated, then there are some things you can do. The following options can help you once again feel valued and appreciated at work. Or they can help you find an exit strategy and set you on the course toward a more rewarding job.

  • Talk to your supervisor. These can be difficult situations, and the conversation is sure to give some anxiety, but you’ll feel so much better when you’ve done it.

  • To make the discussion easier, you want to make sure that your approach is neutral. Going in when you’re angry and yelling isn’t going to work the way you want it to. On the other hand, going in and being too meek won’t get your point across either.

    Try an approach that starts with something like, “I’d like to discuss my recent performance. What do you feel are my strengths and weaknesses?” This puts the focus on your work and not emotions. It can also open the door for you to point out that you feel you’re not being recognized for the good that you do.

    If there are problems with your work, this is where you can learn and make strides toward doing a better job. Just asking the question in this situation will put you in a favorable light and may improve your standing at work.

  • Talk to human resources. If the situation is a little more difficult than that and approaching your supervisor is out of the question, then your company’s HR department might be able to help. Sometimes being undervalued and being harassed or discriminated against is a thin line.

  • Making the issue known to HR can be the wake up call your company needs. In some companies, this is a systemic problem, and people don’t even see it when they’re all behaving in the same, negative way.

  • Toot your horn. Obviously, you don’t want to become a braggart or be obnoxious, but a little public self-praise may be in order. One of the biggest complaints from people who don’t feel appreciated at work is that other people take credit for their work or ideas.

  • When they do that, it’s okay to say, “Sorry, that was actually my idea.” Or something similar. This not only makes others aware of your ideas and contributions, but it might stop the offender from making the same claims in the future.

  • Recognize others. If you begin to call out your colleagues and point out their good work, whether you thank them or tell them they did a good job, you’ll begin to see a shift in employee satisfaction across the board.

  • This can lead to more praise throughout the system, which will include you. Also, when you give meaningful praise, people feel good. They then associate that good feeling with you.

  • Suggest an employee recognition program. If your company has an employee recognition program, make sure you participate in it. It might seem silly or awkward at first, but it can do a lot for morale and be very motivating.

    If you don’t have one, then bringing up the idea will definitely go in your favor. Most companies hate high churn and turnover, and they’re looking to keep employees engaged and employed.

    This sort of employee recognition program typically doesn’t cost much to implement, and it can mean a lot to the employees. It also can help you feel noticed and acknowledged.

  • Consider a job change. Maybe this job just isn’t for you. It could be that you’re simply unsatisfied and you will never feel really good about the work. Or it could be that the culture in your current company is one that makes you feel undervalued. Either way, a job change can be the answer.

    Again, the Johnny Paycheck job might be running through your head, but this is not the approach to take. A graceful exit strategy is the best way to make a job transition because you may run into these people again professionally, or you might need them as references.

5 Tips for Leaving a Job That Undervalues You

It can be disappointing when you realize that you’ll never be appreciated at your current job. Or it can be incredibly liberating to finally see the light and realize you can feel appreciated and be valued for your talents if you just quit your job.

No matter which category you fall into, leaving a job on good terms is crucial. It can feel like a break-up with a lot of angst and worry, but it’s not. It is really just business and should be handled in a professional manner. These tips will help you do just that.

  • Start looking for a new job. Tempting as it is, it’s best to stay where you are until you’ve got a job offer from someone else. In fact, stay until you’ve accepted that job offer from another company.

  • Give notice. Two weeks notice isn’t required unless it’s in your contract. It’s just a rule of thumb, but it’s a good one, and most companies appreciate having the time to replace you. That said, you might need to give more time, or you might not be able to give that much. Do what you can to ease the transition, and your employer will appreciate it.

  • Keep quiet – sort of. Keeping your plans to quit to yourself can be very difficult, but you don’t want to put your good standing in someone else’s hands or their loose lips either. No one should know that you’re going to quit until you tell your boss or supervisor.

    But there is an exception. You may need to gather work references before applying elsewhere, especially if this is your first job. In this case, only talk to people who can and will give you a good recommendation and will keep quiet about it.

  • Written resignation letter. To make sure everything goes smoothly and professionally, a written resignation letter is key.

    This details the exact dates you’ll be giving notice and leaving the job, so there’s never any confusion. Whether you give a handwritten or emailed copy to your boss, keep one for your records, too.

  • Choose your words carefully. There will be a lot of opportunities to bad mouth your boss, your coworkers, and the company when you quit. You should totally vent those feelings to your family and maybe a best friend but never to anybody associated with your profession.

    It can be difficult, especially if you feel you’ve been emotionally or mentally abused and taken advantage of, but no good will come of it. You might actually see really bad repercussions down the road.

    Instead of telling people how happy you are to leave that job, tell them how excited you are for your next professional opportunity.

Final Thoughts

You deserve to feel appreciated and like the work you do matters. You don’t have to be saving lives or curing cancer to have a meaningful work life. You just need to know that your company thinks you’re important. If this isn’t how you feel, or you’re made to feel like you’re not doing a good job when you know you are, there are things you can do.

Your first step should always be to put your emotions aside and start looking at the situation analytically. Sometimes there’s just a bad period for you and for other people when nothing seems to go right. That’s okay because those times pass. But if it’s a consistent thing and you’re sure you’re undervalued, it’s time to take some steps.

Before considering a job change, it might benefit you to talk to your supervisor or to human resources. Maybe there are some things you can do to shine a spotlight on you or shine that spotlight elsewhere, and eventually, people will notice your cheerleader attitude.

If it’s beyond that, then it’s time to quit and find a new job. The most important thing when getting a new job is to leave the other one behind without burning bridges.

Never miss an opportunity that’s right for you.
Chris Kolmar

Author

Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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