Everyone, at least once in their professional lifetime thus far, probably has had an employer, boss or general work environment that made them question their own value as an employee. I find that most people are a lot more patient and understanding of external factors than they give themselves credit for. So instead of finger-pointing or going straight to HR based on a gut feeling that they’re being mistreated or underappreciated, they tend to look inwards at themselves. This is obviously good practice, because if there is anything you’re doing that can be improved, you would want to work on it regardless of how you’re being treated for it.

After re-evaluating your own professional behaviour and speaking to your close friends and family about the situation, if you cannot think of what you could have done to arrive at a situation where you’re made to question your entire professional being, read our list below and see if you can relate. If more than a few of the points fit perfectly into your current situation, it may be time to take some action like talking to your boss or HR, or looking for a different job.


1. You find yourself asking “Am I too sensitive?” more than a few times a week.

Well, you might be, but we’re assuming that during your self-evaluation, anything you may have misunderstood or overreacted to would have surfaced. So, removing that possibility – having to ask yourself whether or not you’re overreacting or being too sensitive about a certain situation can mean that your workplace is making you feel as if your emotions are invalidated or that they don’t matter. It can also mean that you may have noticed a difference between the way you’re treated compared to another colleague.

It could be as “little” as your boss not saying “good morning” to you when s/he walks past your desk, and even worse if s/he ignores your greetings. But did s/he acknowledge another colleague and say hi to them?

Situations like this can be challenging because you feel like you can hardly bring it up as an issue, “I feel unappreciated here because you/he/she didn’t say hi to me in the morning.” And you tell yourself you’re being too sensitive and that your boss probably didn’t hear or see you. But just remember, if your workplace is invalidating your emotions and opinions, don’t join in on it and do it to yourself. You matter, your feelings matter, and if you observe a pattern with subtle situations like this, you are right to feel upset.


2. You don’t get invited to team meetings as much.

Did you normally get invited to your team’s weekly meetings but you noticed that now you’re only asked to attend once a fortnight or a month, and sometimes even just brought in to give an update on your part and not asked to stay for the whole meeting?

Bosses or colleagues that do this may not necessarily intend to make you feel underappreciated. However, any sane person would ask themselves, “if my opinions and work are valued, would I be invited to every meeting?” and if the answer is yes (i.e. your work environment allows for this kind of weekly meeting arrangement) then it’s highly likely that you’re not taken seriously by your work colleagues. You may have noticed your meeting invitation being rescinded over a period of time. It may have started with, “oh, you’re working on that important project so we’ll have Jane cover your part in the meeting instead.” And after a while they start to forget to invite you.

It is true in most cases that important people are invited to share their ideas and opinions. Whatever you’re working on can wait, if your colleagues or boss appreciated your input and really wanted you to join. If you’re made to feel like they’re being considerate by letting you work on important projects, just be sure that it is not a repetitive occurrence.


3. You don’t get invited to greet guests anymore.

Does your office frequently get guests that visit or come in for meetings? If you have generally been invited to greet them or have been introduced to the guests in the past, and you notice that it doesn’t happen anymore, it might be a sign that your employer doesn’t value you as an employee.

It is common sense for any business to put forward their best employees to represent their company and greet or introduce to their guests. Sometimes it may be that your position is either right down at the bottom of the hierarchical structure or completely irrelevant to the visitor that you don’t get introduced. But if you were normally at the forefront of the greeting team or a representative of your team and it is not the case anymore for no apparent reason, then you may need to reconsider your position at the company. It might mean that you’re not trusted with positively representing the company, or you’re not expected to be with the company in the long term. This is especially the case if the role of introducing your team has been replaced by another colleague that is not better qualified than you to play that role.

It’s possible that you may have made a mistake with guests in the past or made a fool of yourself or the company somehow, but if you’re valued and appreciated, mistakes are professionally addressed and forgivable and you’d be given another chance.

“It’s one thing to provide you with professional and constructive criticism, but it’s another thing to constantly put you down as a professional without offering a way to help develop your skills where you may be lacking.”

4. Your boss keeps overloading you with different projects.

Have you noticed that your workload is becoming unmanageable or difficult to prioritise compared to your workload in the past? If you believe there is no reasonable reason why this change occurred (e.g. you didn’t get promoted, you still have the same boss and reporting line, you’re not being performance managed, etc) then you might need to consider the fact that your boss doesn’t appreciate you and doesn’t necessarily know anything about you as an employee.

For example, dumping a bunch of different projects on you with similar due dates can mean that your boss doesn’t actually remember or know what you’ve got on your plate. It might also mean that s/he doesn’t know your capabilities, skill sets, or the time it takes you to complete a project fully, and isn’t considering these factors when giving you tasks to do.

When you can objectively say that any normal person or colleague at your work wouldn’t be able to complete all the projects you have within the given timeline, then it’s likely that you are being undervalued as an employee. However, be sure to observe this pattern with others. If all other colleagues in the same reporting line are receiving the same treatment, then it may just be your boss’s management style that needs to be worked on. If you think it’s just you, and your performance isn’t exactly lacking in any regard, then it may be time to bring it up with your boss.


5. Your colleagues avoid you at lunch.

People don’t normally just change their behaviour towards others for no real reason. It’s normal for friends and colleagues to just grow apart, but if you’ve noticed this at work alongside all the other mistreatment you’ve been experiencing, it’s most likely that it has something to do with your shaky position at work.

It might be that your usual work friends stopped inviting you out to lunch, coffee or cigarettes, or that they changed their normal eating time or location (e.g. they started sitting around someone’s desk instead of the kitchen, or they started going to the outside tables instead).

If you can be sure that you haven’t done anything to upset them and that you’ve made efforts to reconnect with them, then it could be that your colleagues are avoiding you due to guilt. If you’ve been spoken about in an unfavourable way or if they know that you’re being ignored and undervalued, the fact that they haven’t done anything to stick up for you may be a deterrent to being your friends. It may also mean that their professional opinion of you started to change and they don’t value you as a colleague, which ultimately affects any social interaction as well.

If you notice a difference in the way colleague treat you at work and you feel more alone than ever, no, you’re not being too sensitive. You deserve to know why so that you could work on improving yourself if you had done something wrong, or so that you can move on.


6. Your boss keeps asking you for updates on your progress.

Being micromanaged is probably one of the biggest signs of being undervalued by your boss and there is no surer sign that you’re being micromanaged than being constantly asked about your work progress. Micromanagement is also one of the worst management styles, and if you know that it isn’t your boss’s general style, then you should probably evaluate your value and position at the company.

What makes it worse is that sometimes you’re put in a situation where you must admit to the fact that you haven’t made any progress on a project. For example, if your boss gives you a new project at 4:30PM on Thursday afternoon, and asks you for an updated at 9:30AM on Friday, you’re probably not going to have much to show. And before you can even start to explain your position, your boss starts giving you the disapproving look and a lecture on how time and project management are essential skills for this role. Even after explaining that you have had 1 business hour between Thursday afternoon and the check-up now, and that in fact you have other projects to work on too, you get told that John managed to complete projects X, Y and Z in less than a week and that sometimes in this kind of role you’re expected to be able to deliver under trying circumstances.

In this case, it’s highly likely that your boss has already made up his/her mind about your abilities and performance, and does not appreciate your work ethics and even worse, does not trust your capacity. If nothing changes after you bring it up, it’s probably time to consider other options.


7. You haven’t had a discussion about your professional development in a long time.

Despite constant updates on your projects, consistently being told that you’re not performing to their standards, and a lot of follow-up meetings, has your boss not invested any time or effort into improving your skill sets as a valuable employee?

For example, if your boss has been commenting on your time/project management skills, have you been sent to a workshop or seminar that helps improve these skills? Have they tried to train you themselves? Have they given you any tips or suggestions?

It’s one thing to provide you with professional and constructive criticism, but it’s another thing to constantly put you down as a professional without offering a way to help develop your skills where you may be lacking.

If your boss hasn’t sat you down for a professional development discussion in a long time or ever, it might be fair to consider that you’re not considered to be worth the company’s investment. And while not every company can afford to provide their employees with workshops, seminars and other events, they can always invest their time into training you or getting you in contact with the right department within the company that can help train you.

“When your work colleagues don’t appreciate or value you as a professional, then they’ll start to disrespect your personal life as well.”

8. You are always asked to do things that nobody wants to do.

If you’re being asked to do things that no other colleagues want to do, it could be a sign that you’re not being taken seriously at work and that your work wants to “use” you to cover areas where other, valued employees don’t want to.

It could be that you’re being asked to prepare for an event that’s not your department’s responsibility, post a package or a letter, run errands, work overtime for a work event, or supervise training sessions on a weekend or after-hours. It’s not uncommon for employers to want to “make the most out of” an employee when they don’t value them in their position by giving them tasks and errands that nobody else wants to do.

If you notice that you keep being asked to do these things, it is understandable that you’d feel upset and disrespected. It’s worse again if you feel afraid to say no in fear of negative repercussions which can be as subtle as a boss or colleagues giving you a “look” that makes you feel uncomfortable like you’re not contributing to the company.


9. You feel like your personal circumstances are being used against you.

When you manage to say no to situations like above, sometimes you might feel like your boss or colleagues use your personal circumstances against you. For example,

  • “But you only live a few minutes away from here – I live really far away.”
  • “But your partner can look after the kids – I have to look after mine all by myself.”
  • “But you get paid more than me.”
  • “But you don’t have a partner so you can get home as late as you want.”
  • “But you don’t have any other responsibilities. You can skip gym for a day.”

These comments can make you feel like they’re guilt-tripping you, to put your own desires and personal time behind everyone else’s, just because you might have a slightly more comfortable living situation in some aspects. These comments can also be hurtful as if everything you shared about your personal life has been used against you and that you should never have trusted them.

When your work colleagues don’t appreciate or value you as a professional, then they’ll start to disrespect your personal life as well, which can come from a “I work so much harder/I do so much better so they can do this extra thing” attitude. If you notice that this is happening at your work, then you may want to bring it up with your colleagues or consider some other ways to overcome the unfair treatment.


10. You’re scared to ask for a raise or other improvements to your salary package.

While you know that you’re worth more, or that it’s been reasonably long enough to expect a raise, or that your performance and position would be able to get more in another company, you might find yourself being afraid to initiate the salary discussion with your manager.

If you’re afraid to ask for a raise for fear of the response (e.g. maybe they’ll even laugh at you?), or because you already know what your boss will say (e.g. something about you not being good enough), it might be that your professional confidence has taken a dive due to constantly being mistreated and undervalued. Not only have they not taken the first step to show appreciation for your work and loyalty through a pay rise, they’ve made it so that you’re too scared to even ask and you’re second-guessing your own value and judgment of your performance.

In this case, it’s probably recommended that you look for other options elsewhere and see what kind of salary package you can secure with your experience and skills. And once you’re sure of your own worth, initiate the conversation and make a decision about your future from there.


Most, if not all, of the points above can be considered as workplace bullying, and are most definitely considered emotional manipulation. A lot of workers in Australia feel that they can’t speak up about unfair treatment at work or negotiate a better deal with the employer because they fear being replaced or bullied out. While some of these situations can be overcome through honest discussions and by each person taking responsibility for their own actions, a lot of the times, it’s likely that your time at the workplace is over. This is not just because you’re unappreciated there, but also because you can’t keep forcing yourself to stay in a place where you constantly have to walk on egg shells.

If you can relate to more than a couple of the above points and you cannot possibly think of an understandable and objective explanation, then it may be time to reconsider you career options and start looking for a different job. It is definitely recommended that you do some research on dealing with workplace mistreatment before you speak to your boss or HR about the issues you’re having. It is also a good idea to already have some options to choose from (e.g. job offers from other companies) before you initiate the conversation. And the most important thing to remember here is to seek some emotional support from friends or family, and to be extra careful what you say at work as emotional reactions can be documented and used against you.