Yet Another Doorway into Stress
Face it, every one of us needs to feel appreciated. And yet who amongst us hasn’t at some point in our working lives felt unappreciated. Just know that you aren’t alone.
A Gallup Poll found that 65% of American workers felt unappreciated. The feeling of being undervalued is a loss, both for yourself as well as for the organization.
This isn’t just about your emotions. It’s about being an effective employee as well. Studies show that employees who feel appreciated and are shown gratitude are up to 50 percent more productive and have higher morale and satisfaction — and that all leads to lower turnover rates for companies. Recognition and appreciation in the workplace are a win-win for employees and their employers.
On the other hand, feeling that your work goes unrecognized is often demoralizing, defeating, and frustrating. And quite often, feeling unappreciated at your job leads to a feeling of being stressed out. Not only that, but recent research indicates that you will likely carry that stress over from your work to your personal life.
What Are The Signs?
Feeling undervalued at work can take many forms, anywhere from the absence of verbal approval or praise, to being ignored or being the frequent target of criticism. These signs may be obvious, or they may be subtle. Here are some things to watch for:
1. You Feel Uninspired
Feeling unmotivated to go to work may indicate that you are undervalued. If your work was appreciated, and that was evident to you, you would probably be more motivated to perform well. Or perhaps you aren’t being provided the tools, support, and resources you need to be effective, which may manifest as your boss deeming you an unworthy investment.
2. You Feel Like Your Boss Doesn’t Notice You
If you aren’t feeling noticed by your boss, it may be because you aren’t. When the boss keeps contact to a minimum and constrains the interaction to what is absolutely necessary, he/she may be conveying a non-verbal message (literally!).
3. Little Praise and Lots of Criticism
Verbal praise is essential for positive reinforcement. And constructive criticism is important as well. However, if the criticism isn’t constructive, but just criticism, rather than motivating change, it will just deflate its target. If your boss isn’t sharing constructive feedback with you, it may indicate that he/she doesn’t believe in you.
Can You Do Anything About It?
While feeling unappreciated might seem both hopeless and helpless, doing any of the following could help change the facts on the ground without jeopardizing your job.
1. Verify Your Perceptions
Don’t make assumptions about your boss’s perceived lack of appreciation. He/she may be unaware of your excellent work or may be uncommunicative due to pressures you know nothing about. Begin with that assumption, and go with it, until you discover evidence to disprove it.
Be sure to pat yourself on the back regularly. It’s important to schedule time each week to document your accomplishments and reflect upon them. Focus on what you enjoy and set specific goals. When you achieve a milestone, give yourself a vacation or a special treat. Celebrating small wins is a strategy for long-term success.
You need to see this as a way of building your personal and professional value, which isn’t contingent upon any person, including your boss. Keep in mind that a secret of highly successful people is their sustained ability to motivate themselves. True fulfillment and satisfaction come from within, not from external validation.
3. Help Others
Help others in the company by communicating your support for them to your boss. Advocate for them when possible and share positive feedback on their work, just as you’d like them to do for you.
This will create awareness of the need for appreciation with both your boss and your co-workers. What’s more, there is a good chance that the recognition of a job well done will be reciprocated by those who have received it. But make sure that your appreciation is genuine; don’t overdo it. When unwarranted appreciation is thrown around, real appreciation becomes meaningless and less effective.
4. Speak With Your Boss
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. If you believe that it’s time for a raise or promotion, then you need to speak up. If your boss’s feedback in your job review wasn’t constructive, ask for examples as to how you could improve. If you feel like you aren’t being heard, ask how you could facilitate better communication.
Obviously, you need to be respectful and subtle. Prepare for this meeting beforehand by organizing your thoughts, and be sure to have a list of accomplishments fresh in your mind. Never request more appreciation outright; rather, indicate that there are times you feel that your work goes unnoticed.
5. Become More Visible
You may be causing your feelings of being unappreciated, without even realizing it. If your boss is unaware of exactly what you are doing all day, how can he/she be expected to acknowledge your hard work and accomplishments? Make sure your boss is well aware of what you’re working on. Find ways to shine a light on what you’re doing.
It May Be Time to Say Goodbye
Having a poorly qualified boss can be extremely challenging to overcome. And if your boss is either unable or unwilling to acknowledge your accomplishments, how can you expect to be appreciated or to advance professionally? Feeling denied the respect you deserve at work may mean that it’s time to consider moving to a company where you will be appreciated, and have the growth opportunities to which you are entitled.
Carefully consider the pros and cons of making a change. Remember that a fresh start could relieve this unrelenting stress and significantly benefit your mental health over time. When you feel appreciated, you will benefit, your work will benefit, and your company will benefit.