The feeling of being under-valued is undoubtedly one of the most sensitive topics within the realm of organizational health. And it’s also one of the most common. Most consultants prefer to side-step it because it is an area fraught with emotion, unmet expectations and vastly differing perceptions. But that’s exactly why we must address it because a lack of appreciation is a direct path to poor organizational health and disengagement. So let’s get started.
Feeling Under-Valued is the New #1 Reason Employees Leave
No surprise here . . . if people feel ‘under-valued’ or ‘under-appreciated’ by their company, they start to look elsewhere. In fact, according to Gallup, up to 60% of employees are actively looking for something better out there. What is surprising is that a ‘perception of being under-valued’ has now replaced a ‘poor relationship with a manager’ as the #1 reason employees leave.
In my mind, this is a startling trend that can quickly undermine the health and competitiveness of an organization. And it begs the question of what is driving this trend?
Value is a Relative Term
Value is a relative term. What one person or company values is more than likely different than others. And how they perceive the value of the same item is totally influenced by their unique situation. For instance, a college graduate views a starting salary of $40,000 as desirable while an experienced mother of three would find it limiting.
How Companies Show Value
Let’s first examine the more traditional ways companies show value. First and foremost, they hire you indicating they need and value your skill sets. They then pay you for work performed. And they may even reward you with additional responsibilities, promotions, perks and raises.
In my book, these are pretty good value statements. They provide compensation to enable you and your family’s lifestyle while validating that your work is important to the organization. Think about it, if it wasn’t then they wouldn’t need you anymore.
But here’s where it gets tricky for companies. At the end of the day, it’s not just about the money. From the intrinsic perspective, employees – regardless of title, position or responsibilities – want to feel valued, important and quite frankly special. They want to feel like they ‘fit’ into the company culture, into their team, and into the company as a whole. They want to know they are more than just a number that could be replaced at a moment’s notice.
Value is a Perception
So the golden nugget question is: Can an employee ever feel like they are truly valued to the degree that they would like to be valued by a company?
Said differently, is it possible for the company value equation of an employee to be equal to that of what the employee believes? I firmly believe that the answer to that question is a resounding…No!
There will always be a gap between the perception of what you believe you are worth and what the company believes you are worth. Why?
Value is in the Eye of the Beholder
So what causes this gap?
- Unless you are financially independent and don’t need work to pay your bills, there will always be a sense you are not making enough regardless of your salary.
- Most numbers on salary “worth” are subjective. Give me an ‘engineer’ who makes ‘such and such’ for one company and I bet I can find someone else in the same position at a different company who makes more or another who makes less. It’s all relative.
- Let’s face it, it’s not just about the money but a sense of self-worth and gratification for your role and your ability to perform that role better than anyone else. You feel a sense of ownership and you want others to recognize it.
- Lastly, and just as important is the sense of life balance and what you are giving up because you are at work; things like freedom to do other things, time with your family, and even possibly not doing what you truly love.
Are these the only reasons for the gap between what you believe you are worth and what your company believes? Absolutely not. The point here is to realize there will always be a gap and there’s only so much you or your company can control.
Your Part in the Value Equation
So if this is true, what are we to do around the ‘value equation?’
Let me cut to the chase here: STOP expecting your company to be able to provide everything you need from the value side of things.
I hope this statement helps bring you more peace of mind than frustration. Yes, expect them to do everything they can to help you feel like you are in a position of ‘value’ and are fairly compensated for it. But don’t expect them to bring you all the satisfaction you need to ‘fill your cup.’
Unless you are in the career of your dreams (and most aren’t), realize your work is just that, ‘work.’ It’s not perfect. There will be highs and lows and rewards and pains. There will be times that you feel like your company is treating you like a ‘rock star’ and other times when they might even forget you still work there.
The bottom line is that your feeling valued has more to do with YOU than the company you work for.
5 Truths to Live by Around the ‘Value Equation’
- Keep proper perspective. It’s just You don’t live there. You work there. Absolutely contribute and serve, but at the end of the day, your company exists to make money, not to take care of you. If you’re lacking satisfaction, pursue an activity in your personal life that fills this need.
- Your value ultimately lies in how you feel about yourself, not by extrinsic recognition. I’m not saying don’t pursue excellence, validation and recognition in your work. I’m saying don’t allow others to determine your self-worth. That’s a losing battle both personally and professionally.
- Recognize all of the value points beyond compensation. It is human nature to think we’re worth more than our company may pay. But step back and recognize the subtle ways your company shows they value you – work autonomy, flexibility in hours or working from home, project support, etc. These are ‘perks’ that shows the company trusts and relies on you.
- Focus more on what you can control versus what you can’t. Truth be told, you can’t control your compensation or company recognition. But you can control how you perform at work. Focus on doing everything with excellence, enjoy your work and let go of everything else. If things happen, great. If not, great. The most peaceful and satisfied workers are the ones who just focus on doing a great job and letting the rest take care of itself.
It’s on You
You might think that I’m giving a ‘go pass’ to companies on showing how much they value you. This is absolutely not the case. Companies should do everything within their power to show they value and appreciate you.
My point is no matter what they do – from your perspective – it will never be enough in the long run. So realign your perspective and recognize it’s on YOU to also add to your own ‘value equation.’ Trust me, with proper perspective, you’ll know when it’s time to move on and when it’s just another ‘bump in the road.’
I’m Here to Help You Own It: Privately send me your challenges, questions and comments at email@example.com. I can’t guarantee I’ll have all the answers, but I will be candid, truthful and genuine. All of us can inspire, lead and achieve and drive higher performance and organizational health if we simply work at it.
Article Source: Gallup, “The No manager organizational approach doesn’t work.” by B. Rigoni and B. Nelson, Feb 5, 2016.