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Are you undervalued at work? 7 ways to find out.
December 22, 2017

You and Rodney Dangerfield have a lot in common. For starters, you don’t get no respect at work. You single-handedly fix the Quickbooks meltdown? Crickets. You bring all the single ladies in the office flowers on Valentine’s Day? Chopped liver.

And don’t even mention the time you volunteered to dress up as Santa Claus for the company Christmas party. How could you have known you have beard-claustrophobia? (And yes, you’re okay, thanks for asking.)

It’s time for a change. You’re ready to start being valued at work. You’re ready to ditch the Rodney vibe for some good old-fashioned Aretha-style R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to you by matching your problem with our solutions below.

Less money, mo’ problems

Bread. Dough. Green. Benjamins. Whatever you call it, you’re not getting enough of it (especially if you’re a woman). You have three options. You can 1) take the office copy machine to a field and smash it with a baseball bat, 2) switch to bitcoin or 3) ask for a raise.

We suggest option number three (that’s your kid’s baseball bat, and the bitcoin market is really volatile).

So practice your power stance in the bathroom, take a lap around the parking garage pumping “Eye of the Tiger,” then march into your boss’s office and ask for that raise (and by march, we mean schedule an appointment).

When you ask for the cold hard stuff, make sure to give examples of how you’ve contributed to the company’s competitiveness, culture and/or bottom line. (Go ahead, bring up the Santa thing.) Mention some projects you’re excited to take on, or some ideas you have to make the office even better. Then, channel your inner high school valedictorian to calmly, clearly and confidently state how much you think you deserve.

If you get the raise, go back to the parking garage and switch your Spotify from Survivor to House of Pain (“Jump Around,” obviously). If you don’t get it, start looking for greener grasses someplace else. See more tips for upping your paycheck ante in our article about asking for a raise.)

No promo

It’s not fair. You’ve been working your little tukhus off at your job, but when promotion time came around they gave it to that Dustin dude who says “synergy” and “stoked” all the time. So much for putting in long days, coming in on weekends and bringing your boss bowl after bowl of Lucky Charms with only the marshmallows!

Rule number one: Don’t despair. Carbo-load on your stash of cereal oats and do some manic journaling. Do you even want to stay at this job, or would you rather go somewhere else? If the promotion incident is just the latest example of an office culture that chronically under-appreciates its employees, get out. Find a company that rewards hard work and apply!

If you do want to stay, ask yourself what you need to set yourself apart for the next round of promotions. Does Dustin have some skills you lack that you’d be totally stoked to learn? If so, take a class or go to a workshop. You could even (ew) work synergistically with Dustin by proposing a skill share. If you’re still confused about why you were passed over, schedule a meeting with the higher-ups and ask politely for feedback on how you can improve.

Nobody listens, nobody cares

You’re brimming with good ideas about how to make your company better, but no one ever asks. In fact, no one asks for your input, well, ever. You’re like the middle child of your company: the older employees are always stealing your thunder and your boss calls you five different names before he gets the right one.

So get proactive.

Ask your manager if you can meet with her to share some ideas for a new project. Make a goal to speak at least once in meetings. Form a collab with other employees to come up with and support each other’s ideas. If none of that works, you probably have a toxic company culture, and the only thing left to do is post your IQ on banners around the office, rent a limo to pick you up and walk outta there blasting the theme song from Cheers.

Straight-up disrespect

Maybe your office is less “subtly bad” and more “the office from Mad Men in real life.” If you’re being interrupted at meetings, belittled, yelled at or harassed, you deserve better. If your HR department is responsive, lodge a complaint. Propose that the office do some trainings on respect in the workplace, or form a group of similarly aggrieved employees and brainstorm how to support each other and intervene.

If the issue is something manageable but frustrating, like getting interrupted, fight back. Point out moments when you’ve been overshadowed, or, if that’s too difficult, ask someone in your support crew to point it out for you. Practice standing up for yourself in the mirror, with your office pals, or a good friend. If the problems persists, find another job. It might be scary to leave, but there are companies out there that will actually respect your insights and skills. (You can find some here.)

Nothing personal

Maybe you’re not the type to gush to your coworkers about the fact that your kid won the geography bee or that you reorganized your entire craft closet over the weekend, thereby winning at life. But when everyone is oohing and ahhing over everyone else’s weekend Insta triumphs, it can get a little lonely to be left out of that warm screen glow.

Sure, the office is a professional place, but it’s always nice to have some friends. If the social side of work leaves you wanting more, try starting a lunchtime crossword club, a ping pong tourney, an after-work walking club, etc. And don’t be shy: Share your blog posts about your closet overhaul! If people still don’t respond, it’s a red flag, and you should start looking for a bar job where everyone knows your name.

What’s my motivation?

Maybe it’s not just one thing. Maybe your job has got you feeling uninspired in general. If your work isn’t satisfying or goes unnoticed, your coworkers are unfriendly, and you never get feedback or guidance on your projects, it’s time to enter the actor’s studio that is your heart and ask: What’s my motivation?

If you were a character in a TV show, would you be rooting for you? (The answer is yes.) And if so, what would you want your character to do? If the answer is stay, ask yourself what projects would put the tick back in your tock, then propose them to the boss.

Set up a monthly meeting where you ask for feedback or guidance. If all else fails, send yourself flowers on the regular, with romantic messages about how indispensable you are.

If the answer is leave, do it. Unroll a red carpet, put on your old high school prom dress, and walk outta there. For extra points, stage an Oscars ceremony in the parking lot, where you give yourself Best Supporting Actor for your role as an overlooked but brilliant member of the alienated American workforce.

Take stock

If you’re feeling undervalued at work, chances are you’re also undervaluing yourself. Somewhere along the line, you started believing the haters, and it’s not doing you any favors. So get real with yourself. What are ways you want to feel valued, and how do you get in your own way?

Maybe you want to speak up more in meetings, but you’re afraid that the boss will reject your ideas. Once you know your roadblocks, you can start coaching yourself to overcome them. If you’re afraid to speak up in meetings, list reasons why you think your ideas are valuable, practice bringing them up with a friend, and make a list of all the things that could go right if you took the risk.

Set a goal to take a small risk, try it out, and then reflect. Was it as bad as you thought? Chances are, it wasn’t! So keep it up. Finally, set up meetings with your manager and tell her what kinds of praise or feedback help you feel valued. Maybe she wants to help but just doesn’t know how.

If you've taken all these steps, and you’re still feeling bad, it’s time to move on. Slip out the back, Jack. Make a new plan, Stan. Just drop off the key, Lee, and set yourself free.

It’s always scary to step out in order to step up, but you’ve got the skills already. You just need a company that allows you to apply them. (And if you’re looking for a job, we know a guy. A guy named KSL Jobs. Seriously, that’s his name. Google him.)