While employees in different fields have gone above and beyond during these difficult times, many describe feeling unappreciated at work. A recent report by Workhuman found that 49% of those surveyed had not even received a “thank you” from their boss during the Covid-19 pandemic—a rather shocking statistic.
So, what can you do as an employee to remain energized? Fortunately, there are concrete steps you can take to stay motivated even when you feel undervalued at the office.
Do a reality check
First, take a step back and make a list of all your recent achievements. Was it over and above what your peers are doing? Then ask yourself whether your feelings are valid. Maybe you are valued but aren’t receiving as much feedback as you need. After all, with the pandemic, every employee is being stretched thin. Seek a second opinion from a mentor or colleague on whether the amount of appreciation you expect is realistic.
Talk to your boss
Have you been as vocal as you can about your accomplishments? Schedule time with your manager to review your performance and how you’re feeling. Sometimes the fact that you feel unappreciated at work goes totally unnoticed. Your boss may be so busy that they don’t see your frustration. If you suspect this may be the case, speak up. Explain that you sometimes feel taken for granted and brainstorm ways in which you can be motivated to continue flourishing. If nothing else, this conversation will let your boss know where you stand.
Increase your visibility
Look for ways to shine a light on what you and your team are doing. The most obvious way is to speak up more in meetings. Volunteer to represent your team at cross-functional events or on planning committees. It’s a great way to give you additional exposure outside of your typical responsibilities. And don’t forget to praise others! Recognizing your colleagues’ achievements will not only help increase your visibility, but it will also improve overall performance. According to Gallup research, workplace recognition motivates, provides a sense of accomplishment and makes employees feel valued for their work. Recognition boosts individual employee engagement and has been found to increase productivity and loyalty to the company, leading to higher retention.
While being valued for your work is great, you can’t expect your motivation to always come from external validation. To achieve lasting career fulfillment, you need to find meaning in the work itself. Effective self-motivation is one of the top things that distinguishes high-achieving professionals from everyone else. So how can you keep pushing forward, even when you feel unappreciated at work? Make an effort to pat yourself on the back regularly. Schedule time each week to document your accomplishments and reflect on your wins. Focus on the elements of the work that you enjoy and set specific goals. Once you achieve a milestone, reward yourself with a vacation or spa day. By celebrating small wins, you’ll be more likely to set yourself up for long-term success.
Consider a change
If you’ve tried everything and continue to feel unappreciated at work, it may be time to consider a job or career change. A lousy manager or toxic work culture can be challenging to overcome. And if your boss refuses to acknowledge your accomplishments, how can you expect to advance professionally? Consider what you may be giving up by staying and look at alternative paths. Making a change could benefit your mental health and well-being in the long run.
Feeling unappreciated at work can lead to increased stress and anxiety. If you fall into that category, take the initiative to either turn things around or make a career shift. As William Jennings Bryan said, “Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.”