There’s nothing worse than not getting recognition for your hard work. You pour your heart and soul into projects, strive to meet deadlines, make tough decisions, raise the bar for quality, and achieve something that benefits not just yourself but others as well. And then you get no response or acknowledgement of your hard work. 

It’s not easy to accomplish your goals or contribute the best you can when you don’t feel recognized. You may secretly question your abilities, wonder if you’re being taken advantage of, and even start to resent your coworkers or boss. The definition of recognition can vary, but it’s where you’re not getting the acknowledgement you believe you deserve. 

If this sounds familiar, then chances are that you’ve experienced burnout before—and if not now, then you might in the near future. Burnout happens when we feel exhausted and overwhelmed by our workloads, leading us to feel like we’re not doing enough or achieving as much as we’d like to achieve. In other words: burnout happens when we feel like our efforts aren’t being adequately recognized by our bosses or colleagues.

In this article, we will explore areas where you lack recognition, why this might be happening, and what you can do about it to prevent burnout – that is, if you’re not also burned out due to one of these other reasons covered in previous articles: 









Where You Lack Recognition


You’re not getting the recognition you believe you deserve. This can show up in different ways. It might be that your efforts go unacknowledged. Others may end up getting credit for work you’ve done. Alternatively, you may feel frustrated when you see colleagues being acknowledged for what you deem to be undeserving of recognition when compared to your unrecognized work. 

We will explore each of these three areas. 


You’re the Unsung Hero


You’ve got the best ideas and the most clients, but your boss is too busy to notice.

You are the person who gets things done, who keeps things running smoothly and efficiently, who makes sure that clients are happy and that projects get completed on time. You’re a trusted colleague and coworker—but you’re not getting credit for your contributions.

And it’s starting to get to you.

Maybe you aren’t given credit for your ideas, even though they’re good ones. Or maybe you aren’t recognized for projects that you’ve produced, even though they’re excellent work and deserve praise. Your boss may forget to share client feedback with you—or even worse: he or she may not realize how important your work actually is.

When people don’t feel appreciated or respected in their work environment, it can lead to burnout—a state of emotional exhaustion that affects 20% of workers in any given year (according to the American Psychological Association).

You’re the unsung hero of your company, but you’re tired of remaining unrecognized. You don’t want to complain about it—you just want your boss to know how much you care about the company, and how much effort you put into your projects. 

In addition to verbal praise, one way your work might provide you with recognition is through compensation. It’s one thing to work hard — it’s another to work hard when you’re not getting paid enough for the work you do.

Whether you’re barely scraping by or just aren’t getting paid fairly for the work you are doing, this is a huge source of burnout. And it’s not just about the money; it’s about feeling like your employer appreciates what you do. This is reflected in promotions, titles, and career progression as well. If you feel undervalued or taken advantage of, then you’re more likely to be burned out at work.

You are ready to step out on stage for a standing ovation, but you’re stuck behind-the-scenes. 


Someone Has Stolen Your Thunder


Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like someone else was taking credit for your work?

In my experience, this is one of the most frustrating things that can happen professionally. It’s frustrating because it’s not even about getting recognized or compensated for what you do, which would be bad enough. But when someone else takes credit for your accomplishments and you feel like you can’t do anything about it, it makes you feel powerless. 

This frustration and powerlessness can lead you into a vicious cycle of burnout whereby you can’t focus on your work because you’re too upset about someone else getting the credit. You become cynical and think to yourself, “Why bother?” The more negative you feel, the less motivation and focus you have to do your work. And then before you know it, you’re dreading going into the office every day!

You’re not alone. Many of us feel this way, but it’s not because we are slackers who don’t deserve recognition for all of our hard work. It’s usually because someone else is getting credit for the things we’ve accomplished.


The Credit is Going to the Undeserving


You do something amazing and get nothing for it. You pour your heart into a project, only to have someone else take the credit. You work hard to help someone else succeed, only to see them rise above you in the company, while you’re stuck in the same position.

It’s not fair. It’s not right. And yet it happens all the time.

The good news is that we can do something about this! We can stop allowing others to take advantage of us, or allow ourselves to be taken advantage of—and we can start by recognizing what’s really going on when this happens and why it feels so bad.

Here are some ways that undeserving people could get credit for your work:

1) They didn’t do as much work as you did and they know it—so they try to make up for it by taking credit for what you did do

2) They were lucky enough (or had enough connections) to be in the right place at the right time, so they got credit for what was really just luck on their part

3) They’re just plain manipulative—they’ll say whatever needs saying in order to get what they want

Other times, you might see that colleague of yours get promoted over you and you feel like he or she isn’t even qualified for the position (but somehow managed to get it). Or maybe their work is mediocre, by your account, but people sing their praises, when you do far superior work and are stuck with the same old title. 

Whatever the reason, every time you think about this person, you get angry and resentful. This makes it harder for you to focus on work because now when you think about what needs to get done next, it triggers thoughts of how unfair this situation is (and how much better off everyone would be if only they knew how capable you are!).


Why This Might Be Happening


You’ve been working hard, but it feels like no one notices. You’re not getting the credit for your work that you deserve, and others who don’t work nearly as hard seem to get promoted in your place or get acknowledged when you don’t and this makes you fume!

Before you burn down the building, there are some things to consider with regards to what is contributing to the problem. It can either be circumstantial or something that you’re doing. 

Here are some reasons for your lack of acknowledgement related to pure circumstances:

1) Your boss isn’t trained on how to give you recognition. Try asking them what they like about your work and how they would like more of it. If your boss doesn’t know how to recognize you, it might be time for a new one!

2) Your boss is too new to the organization or position to know what you have done.  Set up a meeting to lay out your history of accomplishments in the organization and show them what you are capable of. 

3) Your bosses are simply not aware of how much work you’re doing. Maybe they’re not paying attention or maybe they’re too busy with other projects or meetings to notice what you’re accomplishing each day? If this is the case, then try talking with them directly about how hard you’re working and ask if there’s anything they can do to help make it easier for you (e.g., giving you more autonomy over your own projects).

4) You’re in a toxic environment where people have been promoted based on their ability to play politics rather than their actual work performance. If this is the case, then it’s time for a new job—you deserve better than that!


Now let’s take a look at how you might be contributing to the problem:

1) You take on a lot of thankless tasks or projects that no one else wants to do because they aren’t important enough for anyone else’s attention (but yours). This is where job satisfaction comes from—feeling valued in your contributions toward an ultimate goal—so if this isn’t happening, it can lead to burnout really quickly! You might need to find ways to make yourself feel more valuable at work so that you can give more without feeling taken advantage of or undervalued by your colleagues. In addition, it’s worth considering whether there are other opportunities within your organization that would allow for more autonomy over how projects get done. If so, maybe it’s time for a conversation about how those opportunities could be better utilized by someone else on staff?

2) You don’t ask for promotions or raises. It’s important that you speak up—even if it feels scary! If there aren’t any openings available, ask if there will be any in the next few months so that when one comes up, they’ll already know about your interest in moving up within the company. It also helps if you have some ideas about where your boss sees their own career going—if they’re looking at taking on more responsibility or moving into a different position altogether. By having this information ahead of time, you’ll be able to tailor your own career goals accordingly and use your boss’ goals as a way to demonstrate how valuable you are to the company at large.

3) You’re not communicating clearly enough with your manager or peers about what your goals are and how they relate to the organization’s goals. If this sounds like something that might be happening in your life right now, take some time today to think about how you can communicate better with your manager or peers about what your goals are and how they relate to the organization’s goals so that everyone knows what’s expected from each other and what needs to happen next!

4) You’re not comfortable asking for help and/or accepting feedback from others (which is why they never give it to you). You just want people to recognize what you do, but they never seem to do so unless you speak up first. But if you don’t speak up first, then… well, what’s the point?

5) You have a negative attitude toward most co-workers and bosses due to past experiences or because of their personalities (and this affects how other people feel about working with you). As counterintuitive as it may sound, be friendly towards others, even if they aren’t nice back. Remember, how you show up affects your reputation, or personal brand. It may feel unnatural at first, but focus on your goals, not on their approval.

6) You’re not working as hard as you think. Don’t assume that if you aren’t getting acknowledged for all that work you’re doing, it means that no one notices it. In fact, the opposite is true: You’re probably doing too much, and it’s difficult for others to keep up with your pace. So what can you do? First off, slow down! It’s OK if other people aren’t able to keep up with what you’re doing—you don’t need them to be as productive as you are anyway. Next week at work, try cutting back on your workload by 25% and see how it goes. If things start looking better in terms of recognition and praise from peers (and management), then go ahead and increase the amount of work you take on again—but only a little bit at a time!

7) You’re not being proactive enough about getting what you want accomplished. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s time to start advocating for yourself more! Your boss may not know how much work you’re doing if they don’t ask about it—so take some time to sit down with them and explain what your role entails (and how much work goes into it).

8) You need to learn how to play politics better. If your boss has told you they don’t have time for meetings or feedback, but seems to have time for everyone else on the team—this might be because they have developed relationships outside of work with those people. In order for change to happen at work, sometimes we have to make changes at home first!

9) You’re not dressing your best: If you want to be taken seriously, it’s time to put on a suit and tie. Make sure your clothes are ironed and sharp, and that you smell clean. It’s all about conveying the message that you are a professional, serious person who doesn’t mess around.

10) You’re always working late: If you’re always in the office late at night after everyone else has gone home, this could be why people don’t recognize how hard you work! Instead of staying late every day (which is tiring), try leaving earlier in the day so that other people can see that you have other obligations outside of work as well—and then make sure they know what those other obligations are.


What You Can Do to Get the Recognition You Deserve


If you’re burned out as a result of not receiving the acknowledgement you desire, it might seem like there are only two options: Either you keep doing what you’re doing, or give up and look for another job. But there’s a third option: Take back your power. 

You can’t control what other people do or say, but you can control how you respond to it. If someone else has taken credit for something you did, don’t let it ruin your day—or the next few years of your life. Instead of feeling bad about yourself, focus on what you’re doing now and why it matters.

Here are some suggestions for how to get the recognition you desire:

1) Redirect your focus. You can make sure that you get the recognition you deserve by, first and foremost, learning how to recognize yourself for all that you do! This can help you feel better about your impact on others. You can focus on how you feel after helping those you are serving and, in general, make it a habit to look at your actions through a positive lens. 

2) Don’t compare yourself to others—or even your own past self—and don’t compare your life to what other people tell you theirs is like. Instead, focus on taking care of yourself and being present in the moment. This is going to be hard work at first, but once you start practicing it consistently, it will become easier with time.

3) Remember that the way others show appreciation is not always the same way you would like to be appreciated.  If your boss doesn’t tell you “good job” often enough, it doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate you; they may just have other ways of expressing their appreciation that don’t involve saying those words. You can take steps to find out what those ways are! Are there any projects or tasks that your boss has given you feedback on recently? Did they tell you what went well and what could be improved? If so, how did they do it? Do they prefer written notes? Phone calls? Or maybe even an email? If this is something that’s been going on for a while—and especially if it seems like your boss is intentionally avoiding giving you feedback—you might want to consider talking about how this makes you feel with them directly before taking any drastic action.

4) Ask for feedback on a regular basis. You can start by asking your manager for feedback in one-on-one meetings every week. If that doesn’t work (or feels uncomfortable), schedule time with your coworkers individually or in small groups to discuss their perceptions of your contributions. If you’re worried about seeming like an arrogant jerk, try starting with something small and specific. If someone asks “How’s it going?” say something like “Thanks for asking—could we talk about [something specific] one day soon? I’d really appreciate some feedback.”

5) Keep records of all your projects and accomplishments. This way, when someone else tries to take credit for something that’s yours, they’ll have a hard time doing it because they don’t have proof. In addition, it’s a great way to recognize yourself should you forgot what you’ve already achieved. 

Buddha Bonus: When someone else gets recognized for something that you did, thank them for their recognition. Don’t let jealousy take over—celebrate their success with them! Always be kind and gracious when talking about others’ accomplishments—even if there’s some jealousy in there! You never know how far a little kindness can go toward making up for any past hurts or slights.”

Finally, remember that the most important recognition of all is the one you give yourself. 




Recognition can be a powerful motivator. But if you are doing great work and not being recognized, it can adversely affect your motivation and willingness to go above and beyond. 

In order to feel like you are getting recognized, you’ll need to change something about your approach to the job or about what you ask for from your manager. Make sure that you advocate for yourself in the workplace to get what you deserve. Focus on what you can control, which in large part includes your reactions to situations, how proactive you are about getting your needs met, and whether you deem your place of work worthy of your continued efforts or whether it’s time to pack it up and go elsewhere. 

In addition, there are many ways to recognize yourself even when others do not have time or opportunity to do so. You can take a moment every day to acknowledge what you’ve done well, and why it matters. Bottom line: You matter and deserve recognition!

*Special thanks goes out to Karthik Ram for his input in this area.


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Dr. Sharon Grossman, AKA the Burnout Doc, is a clinically trained psychologist and subject matter expert in burnout and mental health. Associations and Fortune 500 companies hire her to be their closing keynote speaker, to help their members and executives crack the code on burnout, and create custom-tailored solutions for recovery. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Sharon has been helping high achievers who are struggling with anxiety, overwhelm, and burnout go from exhausted to extraordinary by better understanding how their brain works and how they can design and run their programming on purpose to live the kind of life they want to live. She is the author of several books on burnout and mindset and host of the Decode Your Burnout podcast. Through her speaking, training, and coaching, she helps organizations keep their top talent.