career

Feeling undervalued at work? Here are 5 things you should do, according to an expert.

Are you feeling disenfranchised at work? Undervalued? Bored? Frustrated? You're not alone.

Data from McKinsey research shows that during this period of The Great Resignation, 54 per cent of employees surveyed felt their employers didn't value them or their work.

Of course one solution is to simply find a new job. And for some people, that's the right move.

But there's no denying that finding a new job and starting a new position can be really taxing and difficult. And sometimes, resigning from your job isn't the best idea, says top tech executive and board director Aliza Knox, who has over four decades of experience in the corporate workforce.

"Many people are questioning their jobs or career path right now," she told Mamamia.  

So if you are someone who is feeling undervalued at work, here are five things you should do, according to this expert.

Watch: How to tell if your boss is a psychopath, with David Gillespie. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia.

1. Try job dating.

Previously, a job used to be seen as just that - a job. It wasn't your life's passion, but it was a means to make money, pay off a mortgage, or support a family.

But recently, we've seen a shift in that perception. And it's something Aliza wants to unpack further.

"In real life, we're told that your partner shouldn't have to fulfill all your passions/hopes/desires/needs, nor should you rely on them for all these things. The same goes for a job - perhaps we are expecting too much from it. And when feeling undervalued at work, it can really make you question your entire career."

Instead of pulling the plug, Aliza recommends trying something else - job dating to be specific.

"It's important to remember you always have options, and there is nothing wrong with going on a few job dates here and there with other businesses or companies. As a manager, I've recommended my staff do this once in a while and usually a few things happen," she said.

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"One is they feel better about themselves and it reminds them of their value and the fact there are other options. The second is often they see things aren't always better elsewhere or 'the grass isn't greener on the other side'. And it can also reaffirm their commitment to their current role.

"If they do find something better and they're a great employee, of course I'll miss them but I want their careers to thrive. And that's what job dating is about - it affirms where people stand in their jobs and helps them assess what they want to do next."

Another aspect of job dating is to reaffirm your connections - because keeping strong networking ties with people in your industry is key.

Aliza Knox. Image: Supplied. 

2. Job crafting is another handy tool.

Something else Aliza recommends is thinking about job crafting, where an employee and employer work together on shaping a job for the employee that is catered to their skills and interests - therefore benefiting both parties.

"In my book, one of the people I spoke to was Tim. He was stuck in sales and marketing and he wanted a change and to push himself. But he didn't want to leave the company he was with - he loved the geographical location of the company, he liked the people and management. So he decided to reach out to his manager and say he was tired of doing the same thing over and over again and wanted to branch out," Aliza explained.

Tim's managers then asked what areas he was interested in, and Tim replied "business development" and "government affairs". And so Tim's company helped train him up, and when a future position became available within that area of interest, Tim was able to take the new role. And Aliza sees this example as the epitome of job crafting's success. 

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Kerry - a primary school teacher - told Mamamia she was feeling disenfranchised with her job, and incredibly burnout. And after turning 50, she wondered how much longer she could keep up teaching a classroom of kids. So she turned to job crafting. 

"I was burnout and needed a change. I knew I couldn't handle another classroom of 30 students and wanted to work more closely with fewer students instead," Kerry said.

"So I spoke with my superior and with her help and some additional training, I became a special education teacher, and I now work with a small number of kids and get to provide one-on-one help. It's worked out well for everyone - the kids, myself and the school that I've stayed with."

Listen: The one thing you need to do to improve workplace communication. Post continues after audio.


3. Approach your manager with this solution. 

"One of the things I think employers need to do a much better job of is explaining to employees that they're valued. It's hard for an employee to have to ask for validation, and they shouldn't have to," Aliza said to Mamamia

One positive and easy to implement suggestion is creating a way for colleagues to provide encouraging feedback for the whole team to see. 

"Something as small as saying 'thank you' or 'great job' can go a long way, and employers/managers need to start recognising that," she said.

"There are now lots of firms and organisations that are boosting their 'workplace culture' by giving their employees small cash bonuses when they hit a target or do a great job. Or written feedback in a weekly or monthly newsletter sent to all, or a weekly town hall-style meeting with shout-outs. The difference it makes is incredible."

4. Remember that work opportunities are "serendipitous". 

According to Aliza, a lot of positive changes in the workplace don't just come down to luck - rather serendipity. 

And for her, serendipity is a combination of opportunity and action. So when the opportunity strikes to make change, ask for something new or improve your work/life balance - take it with both hands and run!

"I do think there's serendipity in building people's careers," Aliza said. "It's a combination of opportunity and action. If you want a change or a different position or feel you deserve a job title change - make that fact known and you've done what you can. Because what's the worse they can say - no. And if that happens at least you know where you stand and what you should do next."

5. Set clear boundaries and advocate for yourself.

Flexibility is the new buzzword. There's no doubt about it. And in this day and age, workplaces have essentially been forced to recognise just how important flexibility is for staff morale. 

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"Just recently we've seen several countries across Europe legislate that workplaces can't send emails on weekends - it's boundaries like these that are being reinforced. But it needs to continue across all sectors," Aliza told Mamamia.

If you're in a position at work where you are working overtime, your boundaries aren't being met or you're feeling particularly stressed and not supported, Aliza suggests following these steps: evaluate your options first, consider exactly what it is you want changed, and look for support (whether it be internally or externally from work).

"Five years into my career I had an epiphany and I wish I had it sooner - everyone is worried about themselves and their customer/shareholder, not you," she said. "Nobody is going to take care of your career besides you, so it's important to put yourself up for new opportunities, raise any concerns or worries you have and advocate for yourself - because you deserve to be heard."

For more from Aliza Knox or to purchase a copy of her book - Don't quit your day job: the 6 mindshifts you need to rise and thrive at work, you can visit her website here.

Image: Canva. 

Feature Image: Supplied/Mamamia.

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