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What to Do When You Feel Undervalued at Work

Feeling undervalued or underappreciated at work? Here's what to do next.

You spend most of your time at work, and you see your colleagues every day. Naturally, you want to feel comfortable and appreciated, even if it’s not your dream job. Spending eight hours a day in an unfriendly workplace does little to enhance your happiness, but it’s the reality for some. It may be the reality for you if your accomplishments go unnoticed and your ideas fall by the wayside.

It’s easy to tell when you’re undervalued at work, but you may feel lost on how to remedy it. Consider some useful strategies before you call it quits, and see if they improve your work life. Remember to be patient, yet direct — action is better than stagnation.

Talk to Your Boss

The easiest way to grasp what you want in any situation is by speaking up. You may complain to yourself or other colleagues, but this doesn’t let your boss know how you feel.

Venting releases stress, but you should eventually formulate a plan for talking to your boss to avoid any unprofessionalism.

Avoid discussing anything while you’re upset or angry. Cool off from the situation before meeting them. It’s harder to control your words when agitated, and you don’t want to say anything to make them unreceptive.

Create a list of recent accomplishments and bring it to your meeting. Your boss will likely want examples — and they may need them if they aren’t acquainted with your position. Although it’s unfortunate, not all bosses have time to familiarize themselves with every job in the company. Their underappreciation may come from a lack of knowledge rather than resentment.

Tell them you’d appreciate more feedback. Subtlety is essential, and you want to lean away from outright expressing your desire for appreciation. Highlight your achievements and ask for an assessment of your strengths and areas for improvement.

Evaluate Your Efforts

Assess the work you produce and how it serves the company. Are you working up to speed and generating quality results? Does your output match company standards? A lack of praise may be due to your output falling shy of expectations. This situation can turn into a vicious cycle — you feel undervalued, which lowers your productivity and leads you to create less effectively. When your bosses don’t show appreciation for this work, the cycle starts again.

Coworkers who create more efficiently will feel happier, and in turn, they can be up to 20% more productive than unfulfilled workers. If your work hits all standards, but you still feel underappreciated, reevaluate your expectations.

You may desire more feedback than your colleagues can realistically give considering their obligations. Some businesses welcome frequent and open feedback while others expect you to coast along with minimal critique.

Try adapting to low feedback by practicing self-validation, or search for another position with higher engagement.

Pay It Forward

Drum up a welcoming atmosphere within your workplace by complimenting others. Think about how you engage with your coworkers. Do you express appreciation for their efforts? If not, it’s never too late to start. Taking the initiative can create a domino effect. People are more likely to compliment others when they receive praise themselves. Studies have shown that spreading kindness can strengthen your vagus nerve, which benefits heart health, facilitates strong bonds and improves emotional regulation.

Raise everyone’s spirits by showing your gratitude for a few colleagues each day. Be genuine in your show of appreciation. People can tell when compliments aren’t authentic, and if you do it only to receive praise back, others will catch on. Find meaningful things to say about someone’s work ethic, leadership abilities or team contributions. Be specific in what you admire about their skill. Building team appreciation can be uplifting when you all have a boss who seldom doles out praise.

Plan Your Next Move

If you’ve done all you can and still can’t get a nod, it may be time to move on. Weigh your options and decide if finding a new job will serve you well. Factor in your overall work experience rather than focusing on singular incidents. Is your pay appropriate for your position and skill level? Do your bosses appreciate your ideas? Do they accommodate reasonable requests or consistently turn you down?

Leaving is the best option if your environment isn’t conducive to maintaining your well-being. Staying at a job that wears on your mental and physical health decreases your wellness. When you put your best efforts into a company that doesn’t repay them, it’s not unusual to experience apathy or depression. Extinguish those emotions before they can grow worse by making the right decision.

Strive for Happiness in the Workplace

Everyone needs a job to survive, but yours doesn’t have to be disheartening. Brainstorm solutions and ideas for open communication if you feel your duties are glossed over. And if you’ve exhausted every option, don’t be afraid to seek greener meadows.

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