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Are you undervalued at work? Here’s what you can do about it

Published Aug 2, 2022


Durban - Work takes up so much of your life. It can be rewarding and fulfilling or the complete opposite: tiring, depleting and emotionally draining.

The latter can be caused by a host of issues, and one of the most pressing issues could be feeling undervalued at your workplace.

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Devan Moonsamy, the chief executive of the ICHAF Training Institute, says being undervalued should not be confused with low or poor performance because if you have not met your KPIs or goals, then your employer has every right to address these concerns.

“If you are a star performer and consistently meet your objectives and deliver but still feel undervalued, then this is a concern,” says Moonsamy.

“This might then be the right time to ask yourself, what is the meaning of value for you? Being made to feel valuable means different things to different people,” he added.

Psychologists say whatever being valued means to you, feeling unappreciated can affect not only your emotions but also how you think and act, which may influence your mental health, and this could lead to other mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

Employers, when you see a star performer start slacking, you need to ask yourself: What is really going on here? And if you, as an employee, feel you no longer have a zest for the work you used to love, you need to take a long hard look at what is causing this and have the courage to speak up.

Moonsamy offers the following examples of some typical indications of being undervalued and gives advice on how to deal with them:

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Your points or opinions are not taken seriously

This means that you can be given the impression that your viewpoint does not matter, perhaps when you are in meetings. When it seems like your thoughts are being relayed, it gradually starts to feel normal.

It's possible that what you say won't be taken seriously. This is a blatant indication that you are undervalued.

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Restructuring your presentation is one method to fix this. You should take another look at the message to make sure it is being communicated properly and simply.

To find out what the issue is with the suggestions you make, ask your co-workers and manager follow-up questions based on what you suggested.

Getting a high workload but being excluded from work activities and events

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Look at the portion of work that is being assigned to you when it involves a task that could lead to a promotion or perhaps recognition. It's time to speak up if the administrative duties and tasks are the ones that demand the most effort but receive little appreciation.

It does not mean you have to act out to make your point; instead of being forced to complete these jobs, strive to match your duties with those for the new project, which can get you praise and a promotion.

Being micromanaged

This basically implies that there is not enough trust in you to be able to carry out tasks or responsibilities on your own. The best course of action would be to speak with your supervisor about them beginning to manage rather than monitor.

Tell your manager about this. Consider new approaches for how you might inform them instead of hourly updates, tell them you would prefer providing daily ones. Discussing your feelings with them will help you deal with their micromanagement, so do it.

But what can managers do to make sure their employees never experience this?

Sarene Nel, the managing director of Tétris Design and Build SA, believes that leadership should evolve in the post-Covid 19 era.

“Managers play a vital role in keeping employees happy and engaged, but this has become more difficult with employees working remotely or adopting flexible working hours,” she says.

According to Nel, change is a constant, so managers need to be able to adapt to lead their teams successfully. “Part of growing as a leader is learning to be humble enough to manage people how they need to be managed, not how you want to them to be managed.

“Rigid management styles no longer serve the current workforce, made up mostly of millennials, who prefer a teamwork approach versus authoritative management.”

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