Do you ever feel undervalued at work? If so, you’re not alone. Studies show that 79% of people quit their jobs due to lack of appreciation. And when you break that number down along demographic lines, the statistics are worse.
A study by the American Psychological Association reports that 48% of all women feel unappreciated at work. And minorities everywhere report feeling overlooked, over-scrutinized, and over the b.s. in the workplace. These statistics and reports make you wonder — if everyone feels so undervalued at work, why do they keep showing up?
When it comes to feelings of unappreciation in the workplace, structural dynamics are at the root cause of the problem. Structural dynamics are those aspects of the workplace that are specific to the policies, procedures, and culture of that company or office. Some examples of structural dynamics include:
Another contributing factor to problematic structural dynamics at work is sexism. As any professional women can attest, men, particularly white men, in the workplace, “try it.” They “try it” by taking credit for ideas, interrupting women in meetings, undermining the authority of women on projects, and offering explanations and feedback in areas where they have little knowledge or understanding. Despite a woman’s expertise in a particular area, some men assume that their manhood is enough to make them the best leader and knower of all things.
Similarly, racial bias in the workplace, both conscious and unconscious, leads those on the receiving end to feelings of unappreciation for their efforts. Black employees are held to higher standards while simultaneously being presumed to be less qualified. This means their efforts to produce business results are picked apart or denied altogether.
Black workers are also more likely to experience workplace harassment than any other group. Moreover, they are repeatedly passed over for raises and promotions and are on the receiving end of repeated microaggressions. As Columbia profession, Derald Wing Sue puts it, microaggressions are, “the everyday slights, indignities, put-downs, and insults that minorities experience in their day to day interactions with well-intentioned individuals who are unaware that they have engaged in an offensive act or made an offensive statement.”
While structural problems at work are impossible to change on your own, what you can do to combat a lack of appreciation in the workplace is change your perspective. If you are feeling undervalued at work, chances are some of your coworkers feel the same way too. Knowing that means you can begin to ask for support. Talk to your with your coworkers. Express your concerns with supervisors and HR, and begin the process of building a coalition around changing the culture in your workplace.
Another change in perspective you can make is resolving to value your own time. Instead of waiting for a promotion or raise, ask your boss for one directly. Instead of waiting for things to change at work, change your behavior. Begin by making a habit of praising others for their contributions and giving credit to your team when you get a win. By doing this, there is a good chance other people will start to reciprocate your praise and acknowledge your hard work too.
Finally, if all else fails, think of your current position as your source of funding while you look for a new job or start your business. Valuing your time also means making the decision to leave a situation when you recognize that it is no longer serving you.
Have you ever felt undervalued at work? What did you do to change your circumstances or your perspective? Let’s discuss strategies together in the comments below.