The twenty eight-year-old engineer says, “let’s call him Ahmed” who worked very hard from the first days in the company he worked at, he spent extra hours completing his tasks and achieved his targets on time.
His line manager gave him an excellent score in the yearly appraisal and even suggested that he may soon be appointed a team leader.
However when the time came another person from a different team was appointed team leader and “Ahmed” was told he was too young to lead the team and “he may be nominated next year”.
Understandingly “Ahmed” felt devastated, angry and hurt. “All the time I spent was never appreciated,'' he says as he sits on the sofa opposite me. “I started to have stomach pain even though all the doctors I saw said my tests were normal, then came the early morning awakening, even when I am tired I would wake up at two in the morning and feel a heaviness in my chest”.
Traditionally most research studies on stress from work focused on the high demand and low level of control which occurs in jobs you have limited freedom.
However recent studies started to explore the concept of “being unappreciated at work”.
This is a situation we often find ourselves in when we work hard yet we don’t get the appreciation or reward we deserve. As humans, we all crave for recognition and our brains thrive on it.
Studies suggest that recognition increases dopamine production which makes us happy and motivated to work harder and improve the quality of our work and our productivity.
From a psychological perspective, recognition is the acknowledgement of achievement, service, or merit whereas reward is a thing given in recognition of one’s achievement.
In other words, a reward is something you feel or touch, a bonus check, a watch or a smartphone while recognition is an emotion or a behaviour. It is being noticed for doing a great job.
Being recognised is not a luxury but an important concept to boost your morale and even improve your physical health.
Research studies looked at the concept of effort-reward imbalance and its impact on employees’ physical and mental health.
A recent study reported an association between stressful working conditions and increased risk of developing heart disease.
A second study demonstrates employees with effort reward imbalance to have elevated heart rate and blood pressure and altered secretion of stress hormones. According to an article published at Harvard Business Review, when you lack recognition at work you should first ask yourself a few questions, “Are you being realistic about the amount of appreciation you expect from your boss?”, “Was your work extraordinary? Was it over and above what your peers typically do?" .
The article suggests you speak to your boss asking for feedback on your performance, and an average manager should be able to grant you that.
You should also learn to validate yourself and not wait for motivation to come from others, recognise the achievements of your colleagues and be the change you want.
Finally, the article suggests that if none of this work, you may consider moving into a new job where you get the recognition you deserve.