Overworked and Undervalued: What to do When Recognition Never Comes

Posted by Ritika Trikha

“You’ve been working your fingers to the bone – extra hours, extra projects, extra everything.

Everything, that is, except extra recognition and appreciation. It seems no one notices your hard work. However you ended up in this situation, it is time to take back control.

One thing to remember, as Roxanne Peplow of Computer Systems Institute points out, is  “you cannot seek praise from others—it has to come from within.” Rather than waiting to be praised, be proud of your own accomplishments. Shed light onto your achievements and give credit where it’s due… you and your team.

“If you feel that you are doing more than what is expected of you and it isn’t being recognized, you are making yourself a victim.  When you victimize yourself, it’s impossible to be positive,” Peplow says.

To reclaim the recognition you deserve, here’s what to do instead:

1. Speak Up

If you’re overworked, speak up. “Many employees and workers mistakenly believe their job is at stake if they say they can’t handle *one more* project. More projects equals less focus, less quality,” says Steve Duffy, president of ListHere.com.

Duffy, like most other managers, would rather have an employee deliver great results rather than take on too much and fall short.

So, if you’re swamped – reexamine your workload. See if there are smart ways to prioritize and minimize work. Or if you’re stuck doing the workload of two people, don’t be a hero, and tell your manager. He wants to know.

2. Do Something You Love – Even if It’s After Hours

Balance in other areas of life can make or break your workplace happiness. Fast Co. Create recently did a piece on why you should have a passion project on the side. Creative Director Adam Rubin at Firstborn and children’s book author told Fast Co. Create that having a side project is not only personally gratifying but also translates positively back to his work.

For him, writing children’s books on the side “is an excellent exercise in simplicity and rhythm. It has helped me improve the brevity, clarity and pacing of my writing,” he says in the article.   

3. Stop Taking on Extra Work from Slackers

If you’re overworked because your colleague isn’t picking up his slack, enough is enough. Don’t wait until you’ve reached a boiling point, says Joseph Grenny, co-author of New York Times bestseller Crucial Confrontations.

He led a study that found that 93 percent of employees work with people who don’t pull their weight, but only 1 in 10 confronts their underperforming colleagues. Solution: either just say no, or report it to your boss (re: No.1).

4. Get Enough Sleep  

When you’re overworked, sleep is probably the first thing to go.

“Work can keep us up at night by worrying about what is next or by staying up because work still needs to be accomplished,” says Chris Ohlendorf, Partner at Versique Search and Consulting.

Realize that the more sleep you lose, the closer you are to burnout.

5. If All of the Above Fails, Start Your Job Search

If your boss is simply not budging, you have no time to balance your life and all your colleagues are slackers, it may be time to jump ship.

Just make sure you’re not job searching on company time, warns Lida Citroen, personal branding and reputation management expert of LIDA360.

Her advice: “Networking — online and in person — and studying industries, companies and business leaders will help you become more proactive in your career,” she says.

Chalk it Up to a Lesson Learned

Duffy also offers some final words of wisdom for those of you who have reached the point of no return – treat any company the way it is treating you.

“Remember that a company only hires you because you can add value to their bottom line,” Duffy says. If the company is no longer propelling you forward in your career, find a new company.

Chalk it up to a lesson learned – and in future interviews, make sure you ask questions that will help you determine whether or not that company will treat you the same way:

  1. How would you describe your management style?
  2. How did this position become available?
  3. What kind of recognition system is utilized here?
  4. Can you tell me about the growth opportunities available to the employees?

Take back control… self-recognize your achievements while helping others see your value!