Are you stuck in a stagnant career, feeling unfulfilled and undervalued? You’re not alone in this struggle. Many individuals experience a lack of recognition, respect, and motivation in their workplace.
One of the major contributors to this issue is the inability to see how their efforts align with personal success. However, if you find yourself in this situation, it’s crucial to recognize that there are multiple indicators of career success and signs that you are respected in your professional environment.
Working for a company that fails to acknowledge your worth can be disheartening, but it doesn’t signify a failure on your part. Instead, consider these revealing signs that highlight your hidden career accomplishments.
The Solidarity of Colleagues Can Be a Lifeline When Required
The peculiarities of an office setting can sometimes be unnerving. Many hours of your day are spent among individuals who are mostly strangers, except for the professional label they share with you.
After work, it’s more likely that you know intricate details about your favorite TV show’s characters rather than the colleague sitting a few desks away. However, the shared experience of triumphs and setbacks at work cultivates a unique connection with your colleagues, something no fictional TV series can replicate.
This is why the assistance you receive from your colleagues when required is invaluable.
Assistance can take many forms, ranging from minor gestures to substantial acts. It could be as simple as providing constructive critique for an important presentation or bringing you coffee when they get theirs, recognizing that you’re swamped with work.
Alternatively, it could be lending an ear when you’re having an extremely difficult day and need someone to vent to. When people make the effort, it signifies respect within the workplace – not everyone receives such attention.
Although personal connections may be lacking among coworkers, many are surprisingly supportive. Regrettably, this is not the norm in every work environment. Occasionally, you may encounter unpleasant coworkers. In some cases, the corporate culture may discourage coworkers from supporting each other. If you have the privilege to rely on your colleagues (even a few of them) for help when needed, it is a clear indication of professional achievement, a privilege not everyone enjoys.
Your Ideas are Valued at Work
Research consistently explores the reasons why employees exit their jobs – or conversely, why satisfied employees remain. A well-known saying argues that “employees don’t abandon companies, they leave managers,” implying the pivotal role a direct supervisor’s relationship plays in employee satisfaction.
Yet, many human resource studies suggest another critical factor prompting people to depart organizations: they feel their voices are not heard. You could be brimming with phenomenal ideas, yet consistently, they are disregarded for one reason or another. Even the most assured, accomplished individual would eventually weary from constant dismissal – or perhaps even worse, outright neglect.
If your current workspace encourages open communication and values your input, your career is likely more successful than you believe. Now, being heard does not equate to everyone always acting on your suggestions. Your ideas may be acknowledged, yet may not always be adopted. There could be superior proposals, or the timing might not be right for your idea to be implemented. However, merely being heard can be considered a victory.
More often than not, when organizations truly listen to their employees, the work outcomes improve. On a personal level, if your voice is heard, there’s a higher probability that your ideas will be chosen on several occasions, if not more.
In some organizations, a specific protocol must be followed to ensure your ideas are considered. Proposals may need to be submitted to the correct authority or follow a similar route. If such is the situation at your workplace, ensure that you’re complying with the correct procedure to be heard. If you’re adhering to the guidelines yet your voice still remains unheard or ignored, it may be time to consider a company that will value your input.
You Can Work From Home
Everyone’s had days when you wish you didn’t need to be in the office. People are loud. Coworkers won’t stop popping by your desk for “small favors” or “just one quick question” which turns into a 25-minute conversation. You just want to get your work done and it seems like the office is the worst place to be.
Then you get the opportunity to work from home. Things are quieter, you’re much more productive, and you feel refreshed.
If you’ve got the opportunity to work from home – even just occasionally – you’ve got more career success than you think. Many companies are now even clawing back their work-from-home policies, saying that they didn’t like them or that they weren’t helpful for employees. But the truth couldn’t be more different: a study by Airtasker found that remote workers accomplish much more compared to colleagues who only went into the office to work.
Wanting to work from home occasionally doesn’t mean you don’t like your office or that office life is bad. It means that you need some additional flexibility in your life – something most of us need for everything from family obligations to waiting for an Amazon delivery. But so many people are not allowed to work from home, for a variety of reasons, so you’re one of the lucky ones if you can.
You Aren’t Forced to Clock In and Clock Out at Specific Times
In the old world of employment, your time was rented. You had to show up at a certain time and leave at a certain time. If you didn’t, your employer could dock your wages. You may have done a variety of tasks while at work or a single task, but employment was almost always time-based.
This method of employment meant there was little room for advancement because time was finite. It was difficult to show your value because you were not paid to work smart, only hard.
In the modern era, this type of work has fallen off as the primary way people work. Now, there are many more salaried positions where you’re guaranteed wages for a job done. Sure, the culture of work is still very 9-to-5, but it’s far less strict than it was in the past. You show up around 9 or just before and leave around 5 or just after. However, if you’re a bit late one day or need to leave a bit early another, it’s largely not a problem.
Since many people still work in hourly positions where they are forced to clock in and clock out, if you have the freedom to work a general set of hours without punishment for being a few minutes off, you have more career success than you think. It’s also one of the signs you are respected at work since it signals your boss sees you as more than just a clock-in resource.
Waking Up for Work Doesn’t Feel Like a Chore
For numerous individuals, the act of waking up to go to work can incite dread. Your sole desire is to remain tucked in your bed (or comfortably sprawled on your couch). Silently, you lament your fate of not being born into wealth, before reluctantly preparing yourself to face the day’s work. If this scenario doesn’t resonate with you – if the act of waking up for work doesn’t bother you – then you’re likely more successful in your career than you realize.
Sure, everyone experiences fatigue, but it’s remarkable if you’re capable of getting up and heading to work without nurturing any bitterness or resentment. Considering that approximately 85% of employees lack engagement at their workplace – a factor contributing to their enthusiasm (or lack thereof) to rise in the morning – it’s noteworthy if you’re able to routinely wake up and go to work without any qualms.
However, if you’re not thrilled about work when you wake up, it doesn’t inherently indicate a lack of career success. Continue reading through these tips to discern if your career trajectory is better than you perceive it to be.
Having Clear Daily Tasks
It might sound unpleasant, but merely being aware of what your organization anticipates from you is a marker of greater career success than many possess. It’s also an indication of respect in the workplace. Almost half of all employees are unclear on what’s expected of them on a daily basis. This uncertainty leads to stress, apprehension, and antagonism towards the company, not to mention the mental strain wasted in attempting to figure out what to do.
If you’re uncertain about your responsibilities at work, it’s crucial to seek clarity. Occasionally, it might be attributed to certain personality traits unbeknownst to you, such as unintentional lethargy or helplessness. In such instances, you hold the reins and can remedy the situation with relative ease. However, at times, the ambiguity could be rooted in the company or your manager’s practices.
In these scenarios, you might want to explore new roles within your current organization or consider expanding your professional network outside the company to explore potential career avenues.
Your Job Aligns with Your Expertise
It might lack a sense of grandeur, but simply performing a job that aligns with your qualifications is indeed a marker of career success. Additionally, being recruited by a proficient manager for such roles is an indicator of respect in your workplace.
To illustrate, nearly 14% of workers in the US are underemployed, implying they’re engaged in jobs significantly beneath their skill level. Given that income often correlates with the skill set required for a job, millions of employees are not maximizing their earnings or fully utilizing their skills in their current roles.
Economic conditions, both nationally and locally, contribute to underemployment. For instance, if you’re a highly skilled individual but the demand for such skills is scarce in your region, underemployment might be an unfortunate reality. However, with the rise of remote work and intrapreneurship, locating employment that matches your qualifications is increasingly feasible, regardless of your geographical location.
You Can Take – and Afford – Vacation
It’s weird to say, but having vacation time is one of the big signs you are respected at work. Think about it for a minute. If you’re able to afford a vacation (even a “staycation” where you don’t go anywhere but treat yourself at home), a couple of things have to be true.
You have to work in a role that gives you vacation time and you have to make enough money to pay for all of your necessities with extra left over. With so many people working in countries that don’t support paid vacation or in companies that are strict about taking time off, if you can take a vacation you have more career success than you realize.
If you’re in a role where you can’t take a vacation, it may be time to move on. Whether by demands of the job or a boss that won’t let you take time off, being “on” all the time is detrimental to your health and your productivity. It may seem like taking time off is “lost” productivity, but the reality is the opposite – time off helps creativity and increases resilience.
Appreciating Your Colleagues Indicates Career Success
Detesting coworkers is a genuine issue in many workplaces. Approximately half of the employees in large corporations harbor negative feelings toward their coworkers. This can make office life unbearable, not to mention the dip in productivity due to everyone attempting to dodge those they dislike. Therefore, if you appreciate your coworkers – even if it’s just a few of them – you’re experiencing greater career success than you might think. You’re outperforming nearly half the workforce, which likely includes some of your colleagues.
If you find yourself in a work environment where you despise your coworkers, endeavor to pinpoint the root of this sentiment – from both perspectives. Yes, it’s essential to understand what truly annoys you about your colleagues. However, it’s equally important to introspect, ensuring that you’re not exhibiting the very behaviors that make you detest others.
You Can Have Career Goal Conversations With Your Manager
Let’s be real: almost every job is temporary. We’re not in an economy where most jobs you start with are the ones you end with. In fact, you may even switch careers entirely more than once during your career. However, many employees get no career support from their managers. It’s one of the key reasons employees leave companies. If you’re able to have career growth conversations with your manager, that’s one of the signs you are respected at work – and have a lot going for you.
This can be especially true in the startup world, where often managers take fast-paced changes as an excuse to leave employees in limbo. Regardless of the environment you work in – slow or fast-paced – a good manager should take time to talk about your career goals with you. In a fast-paced environment, this can be even more impactful for the company, since the changing nature of the company gives you a great opportunity to learn new skills (and the company gets a great opportunity to fill gaps quickly).
You Have Health Benefits That Fit Your Needs
One-third of employees don’t understand their health benefits. 41% of employees say that premiums are unreasonable. Stats like these are not fun to read – especially if you’re in the group feeling the pinch. If you’ve got benefits that you understand and that fits your needs, that’s a sign that your career success is on track. Whether an entrepreneur or intrapreneur, having health benefits will keep you healthier and more engaged, leading to a better overall quality of life.
Since health benefits are set by employers, there’s little that a single employee can do to increase their coverage. However, this could become a negotiation point for you in your next promotion or performance meeting. As well, make sure you fully understand your benefits to see how they could work for your lifestyle.
You Understand and Believe in Your Company’s Values
Less than 30% of employees actually believe in their company’s values, rendering them all but useless. The most common reason someone doesn’t believe in their company’s core values is that they are poorly defined. This leads to a gap between the ideal culture and the actual culture – but if the talent team is recruiting based on the ideal culture you get a situation of misaligned expectations.
So it’s a sure sign of career success if you understand your company’s values and agree with them. It not only means they were well communicated but also that they align with your personal values on some level. It also likely means the values are simple and action-oriented, so you can easily tell what they mean and know how to live them. If you’re in a spot where you don’t agree with your company’s values, check to make sure they are communicated properly. If they are and you still don’t agree with them, it may be time to move on.
You Can Afford to Save for Retirement
Almost half of Canadians are living month to month, not saving anything for retirement. In the US, that number is 78%, more than three-quarters of workers. Simply being able to save for retirement and maintain a decent standard of living on your income is a huge indicator of career success. The amount you save is a different story – different claims will say you need to save anywhere from 6% to 25% of your take-home pay in order to retire comfortably. The number, of course, depends on your personal financial situation and goals, but you should check how much you’re able to save.
If you want to get better at saving for retirement, the key is to just start. Even putting away $1 dollar per month is a start. Of course, that will not be enough to retire on, but by starting the habit you give yourself the opportunity to save more in the future. This is especially true if you create mini-competitions with yourself where you try to save more every month. So you may save $1 dollars this month but aim for $2 dollars next month, and so on.
You Could Leave Your Job And Be OK
Even if you love your job, sometimes it can get to be too much. Perhaps you’ve stopped learning. Or maybe the challenge just isn’t what you want anymore. It could even be that the company has shifted focus and you don’t want to work there anymore. Wanting to leave a company can happen for a variety of reasons, so it’s not a problem if you’ve fallen out of love with your company.
However, even in a world with low unemployment, leaving a job is not a luxury that everyone can afford. If you have a way out of your job (if you needed to), you’ve got more career success than you think.
If you had to leave your job and you could without it seriously impacting your life, it means you have a few very good things going for you. You may have an emergency fund you could live on while you search for another job. It could mean you have highly in-demand skills so you know you could find another job quickly. Or perhaps you have a spouse or significant other who can help make ends meet while you go on the job hunt. All of these are amazing things.
Unfortunately, not everyone can do that. Some people cannot afford to leave a job because of medical bills where they need insurance. Or perhaps they live in a smaller town where employment options are scarce. Maybe they have to care for a family member and can’t afford a break in their pay, even just for a few weeks. So while not every job is great, knowing you can leave if you really had to is a big sign that you’ve got success in your career.
You Have a Dedicated Workspace
In the past, corporate jobs always came with a desk. HR or your boss greeted you and took you to your desk, whether that was in a cubicle or with other coworkers in an open office style. Either way, you had a space to call your own.
That’s becoming less and less the case. Since studies found that up to 40% of office space can go unused between people working from home, working remotely or being in other rooms for meetings, some companies have moved away from giving employees dedicated workspaces. Instead, they use a process called “hoteling” or “hot desking,” where desks are open all the time until someone “books” it for working time.
Companies love that they can save money on office space, but it takes a toll on employees. Studies are showing that hot desking can cause issues with employees not knowing where they are supposed to work – and wondering where they can leave things overnight. So if you’ve got a dedicated workspace that’s safe and personal, that’s a sign of career success. It means you can leave things overnight or hold snacks in a drawer… little things that help make work better for you.
Your Colleagues Cover For You When You’re Out or on Vacation
Being able to take a vacation is a sign of career success all by itself. One study found that only 28% of Americans plan to use all of their vacation days in a year. Reasons why people don’t take vacation range from not feeling like they can to not feeling like their company actually supports them taking time off. Either way, they feel trapped. So being able to go is a big deal.
But when you take a vacation, you often end up with a mountain of work before you leave and after you come back – it’s one of the reasons people don’t take the vacation they are entitled to. So when your coworkers are willing to cover for you and help take on some of your work while you’re gone, that’s the real marker of career success.
If your coworkers help you reduce that mountain of work and pick up the slack for you while you’re on vacation, it says a lot about your work environment. First, you have a company that encourages vacation. Second, your company culture is about helping people. Third, you have great coworkers. There’s definitely an expectation that you’ll also help them when they go on vacation, but that’s an easy thing to do when they’ve helped you out.
When you know your coworkers will help, you get better rest on vacation. That means you’re more relaxed, re-energized, and ready to do awesome work when you get back to the office.
Your Supervisor Doesn’t Point Fingers at You
Everyone errs – it’s a universal truth. Even leaders make mistakes, often more than their subordinates due to their broader responsibilities. While nobody is flawless, it’s essential to learn from errors to prevent their recurrence. Equally important is owning up to one’s mistakes when questioned about them.
Regrettably, some supervisors avoid taking responsibility for their blunders. They shift the blame onto their team, complaining about the sub-par effort put in by junior employees. They might even scapegoat a single individual to absolve themselves. A study by the Harvard Business Review uncovered that such “bully bosses” frequently attribute failures to their staff while monopolizing credit.
One sign of being respected in your workspace is when your supervisor refrains from unjustly blaming you. Such leaders often possess greater integrity than those who scapegoat their employees, implying they’re more likely to recognize your contributions and not penalize you for their faults. This results in a more harmonious workplace. For you specifically, it translates to the relief of not having to fend off an accusatory boss, a significant win considering a supervisor’s influence over your career progression.
You Can Occasionally Decline Your Boss’s Requests
When you’re efficient at your job, quarreling with your boss is the last thing you’d desire. Your focus is on task completion. However, you’ll probably be asked to shoulder additional work, and it seems the more competent you are, the more workload gets piled on. Usually, you just endure and complete the extra work as required. However, there are instances when the load becomes overwhelming, and you question your capacity to handle it.
During such times, being able to occasionally decline your boss’s requests is a monumental sign of career success. The ability to refuse implies your boss respects you – a crucial indicator of workplace respect. It suggests they comprehend the quality of your work and realize you wouldn’t refuse unless absolutely necessary. It also signifies your boss’s awareness of overstepping, demonstrating mutual respect.
Moreover, the successful refusal to overwork indicates that you’re highly productive. If your boss perceived you as unproductive, they might insist on you completing the task despite your objections. But if you decline and it’s respected, it’s a sign your boss acknowledges your high performance.
While you can’t always refuse – at times, team cooperation necessitates accepting additional work – even the ability to occasionally say no is a significant achievement. However, don’t take it for granted, and always have a valid reason for declining your boss’s request for extra work.
You Understand the Relevance of Your Role to the Company’s Mission
Work without a sense of purpose can become tiresome and monotonous. The Industrial Revolution primarily involved manual labor, which was task-oriented, whether it entailed extracting natural resources, operating machinery, or driving. In contrast, the 21st century has seen a shift towards cognitive labor requiring regular decision-making rather than blindly following orders.
The modern work paradigm, while having improved many workers’ conditions, has brought about its own challenges. The complexity of modern tasks necessitates a deep understanding of the organization’s goals to make apt decisions when faced with dilemmas. However, a Gallup survey discovered that a mere 40 percent of employees fully understand what their company represents.
If you fall within this percentage, understanding how your role aligns with the company’s vision or mission, you’re more successful in your career than many.
Even if the connection between your everyday tasks and the company’s mission may not always seem apparent, it is present. For instance, if your role is in administration or customer support, and you spend your day answering calls, you might struggle to see how you’re embodying the company mission.
But the manner in which you interact with callers and provide assistance is influenced by the company’s ethos. If efficiency is the company’s mantra, your conversations will likely be as concise as possible. Conversely, if customer satisfaction is the top priority, you may spend more time ensuring every caller has a pleasant experience.
You Can Spare Time for Personal Errands During Work Hours
Success in your career also involves the little freedoms. We all have minor chores that are often postponed to the last moment, such as buying a birthday card, refilling a prescription, or making a quick bank run. The predicament lies in the fact that most errand destinations operate during standard working hours, precisely when you’re occupied with work.
The flexibility to perform personal chores during work hours is a significant indicator of career success. It’s not a daily occurrence, of course, as your employer pays you to work. Yet, even the occasional short excursion counts as a big achievement. Some firms disapprove of employees stepping out, even for lunch, under the assumption that they’ve bought your time by paying your salary.
Exceptional employers don’t consider themselves owners of your time. They’re certainly paying you to work, but they recognize your human needs. If your supervisor is accepting of infrequent personal errands during work hours, it suggests you’re performing exceptionally. Having time for personal matters is one of the primary signs of workplace respect. It demonstrates that your supervisor values you, you’re competent at your job, and the company culture supports you, which many people would envy.
Your Job Energizes You (Most of the Time)
A large number of people despise their jobs, so merely liking yours is a victory. People work to earn a living, but that doesn’t preclude you from enjoying your work. Feeling engaged in your work is a significant indicator of being respected at work. Research shows that approximately 75 percent of employees are not engaged at work, and the prospect of going to work drains them. If your job fills you with energy, you’re indeed successful in your career.
Being invigorated by your work reflects favorably on your job, company, and work environment.
Firstly, it suggests your job suits your skills and personality. You get to engage with areas you’re passionate about, and you’re allowed to work in a manner that optimizes your productivity. This alignment is a major win as many people end up in roles ill-suited for them.
Secondly, it implies your company acknowledges different work styles. If you derive energy from your work, it’s likely others do too. Given everyone’s unique work style, it suggests the company accommodates a variety of approaches as it’s focused on driving results.
Thirdly, it indicates a positive company culture. A significant component of feeling energized at work is the overall office ambiance and camaraderie with coworkers. Therefore, a company that prioritizes a healthy work culture is definitely a career success checkpoint.
In conclusion, recognizing success in your career goes beyond traditional markers like titles, salaries, or promotions. True career success is often subtle and nuanced, interweaving personal satisfaction with professional growth and a sense of belonging in the workplace.
Understanding how your role aligns with the company’s mission gives your work a sense of purpose and direction, making you part of the bigger picture. The ability to occasionally run personal errands during work hours demonstrates mutual respect and an understanding work environment. Similarly, finding your job energizing, for the most part, signifies not just a good fit with your skills and personality, but also a supportive and diverse work culture.
These indicators, which may often be overlooked, are significant aspects of a successful and rewarding career. They are signs of respect, autonomy, alignment, and satisfaction at work. Remember, career success is a personal journey, and these subtle signs can help you assess whether you are on the right path. Embrace these less obvious indicators, as they can make you appreciate your career progression in a whole new light.