15 Signs You're Seen as Completely Replaceable at Work — and How to Improve Your Rep

Woman Working


AnnaMarie Houlis
AnnaMarie Houlis
Women quit their jobs for a gamut of reasons — they're underpaid, they're disrespected, they've no advancement opportunities, they're feeling underappreciated and more.
In fact, in partnership with The Energy Project, the Harvard Business Review looked into what most influences people’s engagement and productivity at work, and they learned that employees are far more satisfied and productive when four of their core needs are met. One of those needs is included feeling valued and appreciated for their contributions.
It's normal to feel uninspired and unmotivated if you're feeling underappreciated at work. But how do you know if it's them or if it's just your attitude? There are signs that your employer might not really value you. 

1. They don't respect your PTO.

The average American who can take paid time off (PTO) took just 17.2 days off in 2017, leaving 52 percent of American employees with unused vacation days (that's 705 million unused vacation days annually). An employee who respects your PTO will understand it's benefits to your morale and productivity and encourage you to take it — and they won't bug you with demands while you're using it.

2. They don't ask for your input.

A good employer refers to their team on the frontlines and on the backend for input on projects and developments. They understand that teamwork makes the dream work, but if they don't ask for your input, they may not value it.

3. They don't give constructive feedback.

Research published in the Harvard Business Review finds that women are 1.4 times more like to receive subjective critical feedback (and less constructive critical feedback), and women’s performances are more likely attributed to characteristics rather than skills and abilities. If your employer doesn't give you feedback that can help you improve, you have worse chances of actually improving and, therefore, advancing.

4. They don't give you the resources or support to be successful

If your employer doesn't give you the resources or support you need to efficiently and effectively execute your responsibilities, it may be because they don't find your responsibilities worthy of the cost. They may not care to invest in you or your career.

5. They don't pay you fairly.

Payscale, which analyzes the pay gap each year, has found that women earn, on average, 76 cents to every dollar the average man earns for doing the same work. If you know that your equal colleagues are earning more pay than you, that's cause for concern.

6. They don't respect your work-life balance.

A 2013 Catalyst survey found that 83 percent of women who had access to flexible arrangements said they aspired to be a senior executive or in a CEO-level position, while just 54 percent of women without such programs could say the same. The research suggested that women are actually more ambitious in workplaces that offer flexible work options to promote work-life balance than women who are denied flexibility.
If your employer doesn't even respect your time and legitimate obligations outside of work (within reason), they probably don't respect your work-life balance. And they may not care about those aspirations of yours.

7. They don't share project outcomes.

When you've been working on a project or contributing to it in some way, it's nice to know how it came out, performed or was received. When your employer doesn't share that information with you, it may be because they don't find it necessary.

8. They overwork you.

If you're working through lunches and staying late in the office without earning overtime or credit, it may be because your employer is oblivious to your efforts. While everyone should work hard and go the extra mile, it's important to be recognized for your work.

9. They don't share company news.

If you're the last to hear company news, it may be because your role isn't affected. But it may also be because no one thinks to tell you, and that's disconcerting. 

10. They only meet with you when you make a mistake.

A valuable employer will meet with you to discuss positive affirmations as well as mistakes. If they're only meeting with you when you screw up, but not meeting with you regularly to tell you what you're doing well and how you can improve, that's an issue.

11. They micromanage you.

If your employer is constantly watching your every move and over your shoulder all day, it may be because they don't trust you.

12. They don't advocate for you.

A wealth of studies show that women don't have access to the same advocates that men do. A good employer will advocate and push for you when promotions come up, if you do indeed deserve it.

13. They don't mentor you.

In the same way that a good employer will advocate for you, an employer who cares will mentor you or help connect you with a mentor. While this is not necessarily their responsibility, your good work is a reflection of their good work.

14. They don't take your opinions, ideas or feedback seriously.

A professional knows that communication is a two-way street. While you report to them, an employer who cares might ask you about your opinions and ideas and for your feedback — and actually take them into consideration.

15. They blatantly tell you that they don't care about you.

If your employer flat out tells you that your job isn't super necessary, that you're a filler, that they don't really need you or anything else along those lines, it's probably time to look for a new job in which you're indispensable.
Of course, these signs don't mean that your employer definitely doesn't care about you, or that you can't improve your standing on your team. If you enjoy other aspects of your role, it's worth having a professional conversation with your supervisor about your concerns, and trying to set radical boundaries with your time to garner respect and avoid burn out,  before taking drastic measures to find a new job.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist and an adventure aficionado with a keen cultural curiosity and an affinity for solo travel. She's an editor by day and a travel blogger at HerReport.org by night.