How Do You "Add Value" at Work?
Making Yourself Indispensible to Your Organization
What's the purpose of your job?
Most likely, you were hired to help your organization to achieve its goals. And, for most of us, this means making money. Even organizations that measure success in different ways, such as nonprofits and government departments, have to balance the books.
But focusing on the "bottom line" is by no means the only way to add value to your role. Showing initiative and demonstrating problem-solving skills, efficiency and adaptability, for example, can make you a prized asset to your company.
In this article, we look at three approaches that you can use to add value to your role – and to make yourself indispensable in the process!
Why Adding Value Matters
From your organization's perspective, employees who add value are key to remaining competitive, agile and innovative. Their engagement and commitment energize the business and enable it to thrive.
But, on a personal level, if you already do your job well, why should you look for ways to do more?
One important reason is that adding value will likely boost your career. The more you "bring to the table," the better your reputation becomes. This can make your job more secure when conditions are tough or uncertain. It can also help you to secure a promotion or find a new job if you need to move on.
Taking on additional reponsibilities may also increase job satisfaction, by making your role more varied and interesting. (You can find out more about the factors that create job satisfaction in our article, Herzberg's Motivators and Hygiene Factors.)
The cost calculator in our article, Valuing Your Time, enables you to work out the hourly costs to your organization of your role, including payroll taxes, benefits, office space, and equipment costs.
Knowing this figure – which may be much higher than you think – can help you to focus your mind on the tasks that produce value, and to minimize those that don't.
But bear in mind that many employers also place a high value on attributes that can't be so easily measured – for example, "soft skills" such as effective communication and managing disputes.
How to Add Value to Your Organization
Here are three ways to add value to your team or organization:
1. Increase Revenue
You don't need to make sales to make money for your organization. Whatever your role, your actions can have a positive effect on the bottom line.
Consider the following ideas:
- Extend your network. Attend conferences and networking events where you can promote your product or service and boost its visibility in the marketplace. Professional networking can be especially valuable in niche or specialized markets.
- Build a positive reputation. Maintaining good relationships with customers will positively influence the way that they perceive your brand, and a happy customer is a loyal customer! Don't neglect your suppliers, either – they can save you money and help you to achieve your strategic goals. (Read our article, Supplier Relationship Management, for more on this.)
- Look for opportunities to innovate. Got a great suggestion for a new product, or for improvements to an existing service? Act on it! Our article, Doblin's 10 Types of Innovation®, shows how every aspect of your business can benefit from fresh ideas. And in our resources, Plan-Do-Check-Act and The Innovation Circle, you can learn how to assess the feasibility of your plan.
- Be a brand advocate. Tell your social circle, and your friends and contacts online, about what your organization does and why it's great. This can raise awareness and help to generate leads. Even if those in your direct network don't require your company's services, they may know someone who does!
When you post about your organization on social media, take care to reflect its mission and core values. Always be courteous and respectful, and make sure that your posts don't conflict with your company's existing social media strategy. If in doubt, check with your manager or your marketing department first.
2. Reduce Costs
When your company spends less, its profit increases. You can reduce costs by using fewer resources, boosting productivity, and ensuring that your skills are up to date, so that your business operates as efficiently as possible.
For example, you could:
- Identify cost savings. This could involve evaluating suppliers, sourcing cheaper materials, or negotiating new contracts. Perhaps you could research cheaper travel options, find more cost-effective training, or reduce the amount that you spend on power and materials. Even modest savings soon add up!
- Streamline your processes. Focus on ways to improve your time management, or to enable your team to "work smarter." This could include mapping your workflows, introducing new software, or running your meetings more effectively. (You'll find many more ideas in our article, Improving Business Processes.)
- Audit your skills. You can use a Training Needs Assessment to identify any gaps in your knowledge, or your team's. But also look out for any "extra" skills that you're not using. Say, for instance, you completed a graphic design course at college, but you're not using these skills in your current role. Could they be put to good use elsewhere in your company?
- Encourage learning in your organization. Take advantage of any formal training opportunities that your company offers. But also consider informal training sessions such as "lunch and learns." Could you, for example, help your co-workers to develop their IT skills, feed back on a recent project, or share your industry knowledge?
3. Look Beyond "the Bottom Line"
Adding value means going beyond your job description, and investing more than just the minimum effort required.
First, link your work to specific organizational objectives. This enables you to focus on the tasks that will have the biggest impact on your company's success. (Read our articles, Using OKRs and OGSM Frameworks, to learn more about how to align personal goals with business objectives.)
Then, seize opportunities to take the initiative. Make things happen – don't wait to be told! Look for ways to solve problems, and to help your co-workers to do the same. This demonstrates that you're a team player, and that you're not just seeking to further your own interests.
This may include doing things that no one else wants to do. For example, perhaps your HR team often requests feedback on employee issues, but gets few responses. Or your sales team asks, in vain, for people to flag up potential new customers. Be the person who always responds, who offers suggestions, and who encourages co-workers to join in. Your willingness to get involved is a great way to get noticed and to add value.
You can also find ways to challenge and improve yourself. Stepping outside of your comfort zone and keeping your skill set up to date will show that you are adaptable and responsive to change.
And, finally, don't be shy! Make sure that managers know about the steps you're taking to add value to your role. Develop your personal brand, and use your one-on-ones and performance appraisals to highlight the positive changes that you've made.
"Going the extra mile" can be a great way to add value, but beware of taking on more than you can handle. Doing so could affect the quality of your work, damage your reputation, and lead to stress or anxiety. Read our article, "Yes" to the Person, "No" to the Task, for more advice on negotiating your workload.
Organizations thrive when employees are committed and engaged. And, when you add value to your role, you increase your worth to your company.
This can improve your job security and promotion prospects, boost your confidence, and give you greater job satisfaction.
There are three ways to add value to your role:
1. Increase Revenue
- Extend your network.
- Build a positive reputation.
- Look for opportunities to innovate.
- Be a brand advocate.
2. Reduce Costs
- Identify cost savings.
- Streamline your processes.
- Audit your skills.
- Encourage learning.
3. Look Beyond the Bottom Line
- Align your tasks with organizational objectives.
- Use your initiative.
- Challenge and improve yourself.
- Make your achievements known.