When your job loves you, you’re more likely to love your job.
Let’s get this straight: getting paid is often the least you should expect from a job. Whatever the size of your salary, wanting to feel valued at work doesn’t mean you’re ungrateful or needy.
If you want more from your job – and you should, given how much of your time you’ll spend at work – learning what makes you tick is time well spent. But how do you tell if you’re appreciated, and what can you do if you’re not?
We spoke to Ruth Bushi, Editor at money advice site Save the Student, to find out more:
While a fat salary doesn’t guarantee job happiness, slim pickings won’t help, either.
Your earnings should at least cover your budget and be in line with the average salary for your role. Earning extra on top is always nice – but what if your income leaves you wanting?
If you can make the case for a pay rise, you could just ask for what you’re worth based on experience, qualifications and achievements. Alternatively, you could agree on things you need to do or develop to be worth the extra cash six months from now.
Non-salary suggestions also have their worth. For example, time off for voluntary or personal projects, training courses, or even mentoring.
Note that things are slightly different if you suspect you’re not being paid fairly (i.e. because of discrimination). It’s still worth talking to your employer first, though you may need outside help to resolve things: Citizens Advice can explain what to do next.
There are ways to help yourself in the meantime, whatever the size of your salary.
If you don’t have a sound money plan (a budget, savings strategy and future goals) in place, start there.
It sounds simple, but being personally thanked goes a long way to making people feel good.
Do your manager or colleagues say thanks when you do your best? Do you remember to say it, too?
Not all companies are quite so communicative, but there are other ways to show gratitude. Team events, awards and bonuses can all help you feel recognised and appreciated at work (you can organise social events yourself if your workplace is slow on the uptake).
Being treated as though you matter is important; it’s worth thinking about what that means to you. That could include:
- A staff representative to help you be heard, or to air grievances anonymously
- Being kept in the loop about company or department news, goals and achievements
- Treating others – and being treated – with respect
- Staff policies and activities that make you feel cared for as a person, not just an employee
Don’t get sabotaged
If you’re there to do a job, it’s reasonable to expect to have whatever you need to do it well.
Clear instructions, two-way information and essential equipment should all be standard. Ideally, you’ll also feel able to ask for help or clarification on top if needed.
On the other hand, being micromanaged – where even routine tasks are dictated, overseen or interfered with – is demoralising, though there are things to try if you’re dealing with a particularly unpredictable boss.
Feeling trusted, independent and supported can mean the difference between a job you enjoy, and one you only tolerate.
For that reason, it’s helpful to evaluate how much you have – or don’t have – in your role right now, and what you can do to increase the mix.
It’s on you, too
Feeling valued at work is a shared responsibility: you and your employer both have to chip in.
In reality you’ll have to lead on this, if only by recognising and developing your worth for yourself.
This doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. Make it a 15-minute monthly review and check-off:
- Achievements, lessons learned, progress
- Ways you’ve brought value to your role and the company
- What gets you out of bed every day? What do you want from your career?
There are limits to this. If personal issues are weighing on your mind or bringing you down, being validated at work won’t be a magic fix. Likewise, if you’re struggling with low self-esteem or life-changing events, you may not always have space to think objectively about work.
But remember: you don’t have to change the world overnight.
Have more of the things that make you feel good, try to minimise things that make you feel bad, and ask for help if you need it.
Even baby steps could make a real difference in getting you where you want to be.
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Ruth Bushi is an editor at money advice site Save the Student.
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