It can be demoralizing, demeaning and just plain frustrating when you feel like your work and ideas go unrecognized. As humans, we all want to be treated and paid fairly for our hard work — and, yes, also patted on the back once in a while (figuratively).
But what if you're working for a company, boss, or team that isn't giving you the recognition you deserve?
We’ll share seven telltale signs you’re not appreciated — or not enough! — and a few steps you can take if those signs sound a little too familiar.
When you experience a work win, nothing stings more than watching your boss or coworker take credit for the success without mentioning your hard work. While you may want to tell everyone about their betrayal during tomorrow’s company-wide all-hands, you know that won’t actually solve anything. And after repeat offenses, you may start to wonder why you even put in the work if you never get the credit.
If you're doing the same work (or more work) as someone else who's being paid more than you this may be a sign that you're unappreciated at work.
You need constructive feedback to advance in your career. According to The Muse, constructive feedback creates “a learning environment that allows people the space to grow in their careers.” So you can understand how difficult it would be to do without it. If you’re not getting any feedback at all, or what you’re hearing is just critical rather than helpful, you’ll have a difficult time making the changes you need to improve.
And research has found it’s even more difficult to get the right kind of feedback as a woman in the workplace. Women are 1.4 times more likely to receive subjective critical feedback (and less constructive feedback), according to the Harvard Business Review, and women’s performance is more likely attributed to characteristics rather than skills and abilities.
Research shows that women get interrupted, talked over, shut down or penalized for speaking up at work. And when your innovative ideas are constantly ignored or shut down, it can be a disheartening and frustrating sign that you’re not being heard or appreciated.
Have your responsibilities been continuing to pile up without so much as a nod from your manager? Has Debbie in HR been promoted twice and you’ve gone without so much as a cost-of-living raise? Or has someone with less experience received a promotion over you? While no one is entitled to a promotion or raise, it’s a red flag if you’ve been thrown more work while in the same position earning the same pay as you’ve had for years.
If you're trying to do your job well but your company refuses to give you the tools, support or resources you need to do it, it may mean that they don't see your potential or are not prioritizing your work. If your company doesn’t want to invest time or money, it may be a sign that you and/or your role are undervalued.
Have you ever felt discouraged from taking your PTO? Or worse, been denied on multiple occasions? And even if you do end up taking that PTO, you sometimes find yourself working on vacation? According to a survey conducted by Glassdoor, 34% of those who reported working on vacation said it was because they were afraid of falling behind. If you feel like you can't take your vacation or sick leave because it'll set you back (or put you on bad terms with your boss), then you’re probably working for a company with an unhealthy company culture and little appreciation for employees’ physical and emotional well-being.
While feeling unappreciated at work might seem like a helpless situation, there are some steps you can take to get the credit and appreciation you deserve.
Evaluate the situation. Before you sit down with your boss, it’s important to dive into what validation you expect to receive from them. Are you being realistic in your expectations? For example, it’s probably not realistic to expect a weekly email from your manager listing out your accomplishments. However, it would be perfectly reasonable to expect kudos and constructive criticism to come up somewhat regularly in your biweekly 1:1s.
Show appreciation for others. Life coach Marie Forleo says that the best thing to do when you aren’t feeling appreciated is to “give to others that which you feel that you lack.” Effectively communicate with your boss and coworkers, support them, advocate for them, echo their ideas and give them feedback on their work, just as you'd like. Perhaps then, these actions will be reciprocated.
Ask for what you need. If you think you deserve a raise or a promotion, ask. If the feedback you received in your annual review wasn't at all helpful, ask for examples of how you could improve. If you feel like your ideas aren't heard, ask how they'd be more easily digestible. Many times, your boss and coworkers might not even be aware that they're neglecting to appreciate you.
Validate yourself. Don’t forget to appreciate yourself, even if others aren’t cutting it. Take 30 minutes at the end of each week to think about any significant tasks you accomplished. You can even write them down to add to your brag file and eventually your resume or interview answers, should you decide to move on — which brings us to…
Look elsewhere. This job doesn’t have to be your be-all and end-all. There are plenty of companies out there looking for hardworking individuals like yourself. If you aren't receiving the respect you deserve in the workplace, it may be time to consider a new company that fosters a culture in which your contributions will be appreciated and you’ll have room to grow.
This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist for a gamut of both online and print publications, as well as an adventure aficionado and travel blogger at HerReport.org. She covers all things women's empowerment — from navigating the workplace to navigating the world. She writes about everything from gender issues in the workforce to gender issues all across the globe.
Fairygodboss team editors contributed writing, reporting, and/or advice to this article.