Feeling Undervalued at Work? Maybe the Reason is Your Role

Does your employer truly appreciate your role? If not, it could seriously hold you back from moving up. Keep reading to find out the real reason you’re feeling undervalued at work — and if it’s best to move on. 

Is This Why You’re Feeling Undervalued at Work?

Are you someone who’s giving it your all at work, but still not getting the appreciation and rewards you deserve?

Maybe you just need to gain more visibility for your hard work or speak up more in meetings. Or, it could be that you’re stuck with a lousy boss who’s holding you back.

But there’s another possibility you need to consider. The reason you’re feeling undervalued at work might not have anything to do with you personally.

It might be because your company doesn’t truly appreciate your role — or even your entire team. Maybe the area of the business you work in just isn’t considered essential to success.

And if that’s the case, it could seriously hold you back from moving up.

Functional Emphasis Varies by Company

Every organization has its own way of doing things. Some may prioritize product development over customer service, or they might place a higher emphasis on sales instead of marketing. Others might value operational excellence above all else.

It’s a great feeling when you’re in a department that’s considered vital to the business. Typically, that means you receive more resources and investments compared to other parts of the company.

Expect to Be Treated with Respect No Matter What

But even when one segment of the business takes precedence, it shouldn’t come at the expense of others. In a healthy company culture, every part of the organization should be treated well, regardless of top priorities and strategic focus.

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Sometimes, if you work in an area that isn’t viewed as strategic or essential to success, you might start feeling undervalued, or even disrespected.

It can really take at toll on your sense of belonging, job satisfaction and overall mental health.

Friction Between Functions is Expected

Now, I’m sure most of us have felt like a second-class citizen at work at some time or another. I mean, friction between different departments is a regular part of working in business. But it doesn’t necessarily indicate you’re not valued or appreciated.

There’s a difference between typical departmental clashes and outright disrespect in a toxic work environment.

Departmental Clash vs Outright Disrespect

For example, when the sales team makes special promises to customers that the operations team is responsible for delivering, it can be frustrating for the ops team, but it’s not a deliberate act of disrespect. It’s simply the nature of sales trying to close deals, and a common occurrence in business.

However, when you see colleagues in other departments consistently receiving company-wide praise and recognition, while the only acknowledgment of your efforts comes from within your own team, it could indicate that your part of the business isn’t being valued as much as it should be.

Perhaps there’s some dysfunction or power struggles among senior leaders, or maybe the head of your department is having a tough time gaining support from the executive team. Sometimes, it’s just a lack of understanding about what your department actually brings to the table.

5 Questions to Assess Your Situation

Regardless of what the deal is, it’s likely driving down employee morale and could even impede your career path. It’s a good idea to take a closer look at your situation.

Here’s a few questions to help you figure out whether your role and function are genuinely undervalued in your organization:


1. Does the head of your department report directly to the CEO? 

The organizational reporting structure holds significance. When the head of your department reports directly to the CEO, it’s likely considered a crucial component of the business.

However, if your department is placed under another functional area, like marketing reporting into sales or HR reporting into finance, it could be you’re not being valued as much as you deserve.


2. Is your functional area led by a senior executive? 

Job titles also matter. If the head of your function is a vice president, but leaders of the other departments all have c-suite titles, this is another sign that the CEO doesn’t place enough value on your area of the business.

3. How many of your team members were promoted last year? How does that compare to other departments? 

Another potential sign that your department isn’t as valued as it should be is if you’re not seeing the same level of recognition and rewards as your peers in other areas of the business.

A lack of workplace promotions or growth opportunities within your department can be an indicator of a bigger problem.


4. Does your company include members of your team in its recognition programs?

Consider how your team participates in company reward programs like the President’s Club.

While President’s Clubs typically focus on celebrating the sales team, a healthy corporate environment recognizes the contributions of every department to sales success.

I briefly worked for a company where marketing was excluded from the President’s Club, while MVPs from other departments were invited. It was a clear red flag that marketing wasn’t regarded on an equal footing with the rest of the organization.


 5. How much is the annual budget as a percentage of revenue? How does this compare to industry norms? 

If your company isn’t investing in your part of the business, it’s a pretty good sign you’re not a top priority right now.

Of course, this could change next year based on business strategy, but it’s worth knowing the reasons why you’re not getting your fair share of the operating budget.

Advice About How to BE MORE VISIBLE at Work

Speak up in meetings

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Work for a Great Place


Now, a word of caution. If your budget doesn’t match your expectations or your department head isn’t on speed dial with the CEO, it doesn’t automatically mean your function is in trouble. The key is to keep an eye out for a consistent pattern of behavior that points to a real issue.

But if you’ve concluded that your current company doesn’t really value what you do, it might be best to change employers. Join an organization where the best employees get equally rewarded for great work, regardless of organizational structure. 

And here’s a friendly tip: be sure to ask some form of the above questions during your interviews. Don’t make the mistake of trading one bad spot for an even worse one.

Make sure your next employer is really a great place to work – and values all parts of the business equally!


About Author

As a former CMO who started her career as an admin assistant, Alison writes about climbing the corporate ladder to achieve financial freedom.

You can read more about her story here.



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