Everyone needs to feel valued for what they do and who they are. Do your people feel undervalued because they aren’t being paid enough? Does your team think that you are pushing them to work too hard? Does your team believe that they are working towards their full potential?
There are many reasons why someone might feel undervalued. It could be because they don’t feel like their contributions matter. Or they aren’t getting the appreciation they need and deserve. As a result, they don’t feel inspired to contribute. They don’t find joy in what they do.
This is a serious matter—the more employees feel undervalued at work, the less output they produce, their output is lower quality, and they are overall less productive. For a business, this means a direct hit to the bottom line—a cost nobody wants.
Why unappreciated employees cost you more
A fatigued workforce doesn’t work
To be clear, undervalued employees aren’t the same as overworked employees. However, people who are unappreciated at work tend to feel less interested in what they do, and as a result, mental fatigue begins to take a toll. Tasks start seeming more repetitive and monotonous, and even robotic. This leads to people feeling tired at work. This means that your employees will be less productive, and as a result, output levels drop.
Uninspired teams equal poor output
Lack of engagement and demotivation due to employees feeling undervalued leads to a workforce that has no commitment to what they do. Expect significantly lower levels of creativity, innovation, interaction, and of course, productivity. Gallup suggests that only one-third of the workforce is really engaged in the work they do—this is a cause for concern.
Replacing people is expensive
Research shows that 79% of employees that leave a job do so because they didn’t feel valued. This means companies have to invest more in recruitment, onboarding, and training for new hires. In addition, they also have to bear the cost of lower productivity until these new hires reach optimum output levels. High churn rates are costly.
6 signs that your employees are feeling undervalued at work
1. Lack of willingness to change
If your team is throwing their hands up in the air at the hint of minor changes, you are likely dealing with members that aren’t feeling appreciated enough. While some resistance to change is normal, if your team stops caring about change or rejects it outright, you could have a serious issue on your hands.
2. Increased resistance
If you see that people in your team aren’t being as compliant as they used to be, you should be wary. Likely, they don’t feel recognised for their efforts. You need to intervene and curb that resistance before it turns into rejection and resentment.
3. Drops in output
If all other things are constant and you see a consistent drop in output over time, you need to investigate. If your findings are that some of your team are carrying out precisely what’s required in order to meet minimum targets, it’s probably because your employees aren’t feeling valued for their contribution.
4. A feeling of apathy towards work
One of the early signs of employees feeling undervalued could be that they aren’t really paying attention. If your people aren’t interested in what they do, and exhibit tendencies such as unwillingness to provide feedback, it stands to reason that you haven’t been giving them the recognition they think they deserve.
5. Drops in participation
Undervalued employees often tend to shy away from team activities and prefer not to participate in important company meetings.
6. Employee churn
Employee churn is likely the best indicator of undervalued employees, but by this stage, you have already started incurring the heavy costs associated with attrition. Early remedial action is the best way to prevent this.
7. Wanting more pay for the same work
Undervalued employees often express the need for better compensation. You will be able to verify this if nothing else related to their jobs has changed significantly and they still feel they need to be paid better to do the same work.
8. Dissatisfaction in their current roles
This one can be a bit tricky because there are many reasons people might want to change their roles. To determine this, check that there are no other driving factors, such as tenure, workload, stress, personal issues, etc. If all this is constant, you likely have to look at whether you’ve been giving your employee the appreciation they deserve.
Ways to show appreciation for your employees
There are many ways to show your employees that you value their contribution. Let's examine a few that explain how employers and managers can express appreciation for employees that feel undervalued at work.
1. Recognize great performance
Tell them they are doing great when you see them work hard and meet or exceed goals. Tell them exactly how you feel they contributed towards accomplishing a target.
2. Personalize your gratitude
Blanket appreciation cards will find themselves in the bin. Personalise everything—we all know when a manager has simply signed a pile of cards without looking at them. Write a heartfelt letter of gratitude in ink. It is always great to get a letter of appreciation from the CEO.
3. Be sincere
Be genuine whenever you appreciate an employee that has done well. If employees sense insincerity, your efforts of gratitude will backfire.
4. Give useful rewards
Rewards are great; make sure they are useful and in line with what employees want. How? Ask them what they need. Sometimes it’s great to get a trophy, but after three straight weeks of long nights to finish a project, it’s nice to get a day off with a spa coupon.
5. Ask your employees for help
Talk to your team, and let them know their opinions matter. If managers always have the answers, employees will feel like they aren’t needed. Ask for feedback, ask for help, and listen to them.
6. Be consistent
Repeat all good practices, and make them a part of how your organisation operates. All good practices, such as appreciating your employees, will fall short if you aren’t consistent.
7. Offer good compensation
While pay isn’t ranked as the first reason employees feel undervalued, make sure you pay them what they are worth. Talent markets are competitive; they will leave if they see peers getting paid better elsewhere for the same work.
8. Build healthy feedback loops
Feedback should be structured, helpful, expected, a mix of formal and casual, and most of all, regular.
9. Stop looking over their shoulders
Nobody likes being micromanaged. Trust your employees to do their jobs well. Give them what they need to execute their tasks and believe that the task is in the right hands.
10. Invest in learning and development
Employees that see companies investing in their skills and abilities feel that companies value them and thus invest in them.
11. Help plan their success
Draw out career plans, structure conversations around growth and consistently work towards those goals—with your employees.
12. Don’t cross professional boundaries
You may have to ask an employee to put in an hour or two extra sometimes, but when they are on holiday, leave them alone. Be friendly, and get to know them, but you must stay within the reasonable bounds of your profession.
13. Don’t overload your best performers
Your best performers won’t remain that way if they keep getting bigger workloads than everyone else.
14. Promote appropriately skilled employees
Promotions are important, but make sure your employees have the skills to handle that promotion and ensure you haven’t overlooked a great performer. When you have employees competing for similar positions, ensure that you draw out alternate career paths that align with their goals.
15. Be there for them
Everyone needs support. In some cases, it could be professional support, ensuring they have the tools they need. It could be backing them up when a client is clearly out of line. In some instances, it could be letting them know that they can reach out to you with their personal issues as well.
16. Be fair
This seems obvious, but it can be hard to do. Make decisions based on data and always seek clarity as to why an employee is behaving a certain way, especially if they are behaving uncharacteristically.
17. Tell them how they have contributed to the company’s success
Tell others too! Don’t just say well done! Tell them how their actions have specifically contributed to your organisation’s success.
18. Encourage them to reach their full potential
Find out what your employees’ potential is and make sure you utilise it. Employees that don’t feel that they are working to their full potential will become disengaged quickly. Unleash their strengths and let them use their unique skills for their own success and that of your organisation as well.
19. Make recognition and positive feedback part of your culture
Make recognition a part of your culture, make it a standard practice and keep it that way. You need to review your recognition and feedback strategies constantly to keep improving them.
20. Celebrate wins
Take your team out for a meal, and celebrate wins together.
21. Treat them like people, not just names and numbers in an employee database
The most important aspect of ensuring your employees don’t feel undervalued is to treat them like people. Change your attitude from looking at them as numbers on a screen to seeing them as people who matter.
Your employees are your greatest asset; make sure they know it
Employee engagement is the underlying foundation for ensuring employees do not feel undervalued. Use Mesh to drive coaching and development, thanks to our smart analytics that track and nudge the prevalence as well as the quality of your company’s 1:1s program. Book a free demo with us today.