The thought of employee “value” in the workplace is a tricky concept to understand.
Is it the salary an organization is willing to pay for an employee that equates to their value?
Is it the output of work provided by the employee that equates to value?
If someone is not meeting the barometer for value that an organization sets, does that mean they lack value?
Every organization measures this concept differently according to their business model or current needs, but a non-negotiable for me and anyone I train is that regardless of how an organization defines value, there is a reasonable level of respect towards an employee’s contribution.
Sure, they’re getting paid for the work they do (good or bad), but they’ve ultimately chosen to spend a given amount of time (not to mention the state of their career) on a given organization.
A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with a leader whose manager had left her organization for a new job early this year.
Naturally, the responsibilities of the departed manager fell onto this employee, which led her to take on multiple projects and manage half a dozen direct reports.
All of this was temporary, as the organization was looking for a new replacement.
As the end of June approached, the organization decided they couldn’t find the “right fit” for a backfill after dragging their feet for months.
They no longer needed to fill this role because they had someone who could do these responsibilities right under their nose.
They decided to give the responsibilities and projects of this management role to this individual who was temporarily covering them. The only problem was, they didn’t get the senior-level management title or matching pay.
They had the “job” but none of the benefits that came along with it.
Remember my non-negotiable?
Well, if an employee who is successfully performing at a senior level position is told they can have the new role minus the benefits - you’ve essentially crossed that value/respect line I mentioned.
The company saw the value of the work she produced, but they weren’t willing to pay for it.
There’s only so much you can do to “grow” in any role before it becomes exploitative. I’m not saying this will always be the case, but it happens with enough frequency for you to be aware of it.
Organizations can’t fill a high-level role, so they push it to employees further down the career ladder to complete. If they can adequately do it, they’ll have the responsibilities but none of the benefits.
Regardless of how you define value, learn to advocate for yourself and never settle for less than what you’re willing to accept.
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