Make Yourself Valuable in Your Job
by Ron Kurtus (revised 4 April 2011)
A person is hired to work for a company because they need his or her services to help them make a profit from their goods or services. To some degree, they pay the employee according to the value provided to the company.
Supply and demand also come into play in wages or salary. If you make yourself more valuable, you may reap rewards.
Questions you may have include:
- What are examples of valuable employees?
- How is value determined in a job?
- How can you make yourself more valuable?
This lesson will answer those questions.
All employees should contribute to a company's profits. Some are considered more valuable than others, usually in relation to the amount of profits they produce.
Top executives of companies, such as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and President, are considered very valuable to their companies, because they make solid business decisions that bring in profits and dividends to the stockholders.
In return for their value, some top executives receive million dollar bonuses on top of their large salaries.
In many situations such a bonus may be appropriate, but there have been cases where stockholders have complained about them—especially when the company is losing money—only to have the Board of Directors overrule them. This is like the workers overruling the owners.
Top salesman valuable
A salesman who brings in a multi-million dollar contract is certainly considered valuable to the company. Companies often pay high commissions to such an employee, in order to keep the person in the company.
Ross Perot was such a good salesman for IBM that his commissions put his wages above those of the top executives. Although he was extremely valuable to the company—and also very difficult to replace—the executives put a cap on his earnings. Perot then left the company and started Electronic Data Services (EDS) and became a multi-millionaire. He later unsuccessfully ran for President of the U.S.
Workers with specialized skills are usually considered valuable to the company and paid accordingly. The average worker is paid according to the skill-level of the job and the supply of workers. When unemployment is high, wages tend to drop.
Often it is very difficult for a company to determine the value of an employee. Usually, that is determined by supply and demand. They may need a certain type of worker and have to pay dearly, even though the added value to the end product is not that great.
In many cases, the value of a person is perceived and not actual. A person who is friends with the boss is perceived as more valuable to a company than a person who actually does valuable work, but who is not liked.
Consider a person who works in the department store warehouse, putting price labels on clothes items. The person gets paid $6.00/hour, but the company pays $12.00/hour including insurance, benefits, etc. If the worker averages 240 labels an hour, that adds $0.05 to the cost of each item.
This job is important, because they need the price tags on the items, but it does not really increase the value of the product much. Also, since it is unskilled labor, the supply of workers is great. Thus the hourly pay is low.
A computer programmer can count the hours spent on developing a software application and see the savings to the company or how much they make on the product. It is sort of like a return-on-investment for the company.
An interesting exercise is to try to figure out your value to your company. In some cases, you can estimate how many products that you contribute to, what the company charges for them, and how much they pay you for the contribution.
Make yourself more valuable
No matter what your position in a company, you want to make yourself more valuable to them. This will not only help you get raises and promotions, but it will also ensure job-security.
Ways to be more valuable in your job include:
- Finding ways to do your job better or quicker, thus saving the company money
- Increasing your skills, so you can do more needed work for the company
- Performing extra duties, beyond the scope of your job description
Must be careful
You must be careful, though, in seeking ways to be more valuable. Sometimes a worker will do something he thinks is valuable, only to be shot-down by his superiors. Occasionally, they don't want people to try to be more valuable, because it is a threat of one sort of another.
Executives, salesmen, and workers contribute to the profits of a company. The value of some can be directly related to the profits, while other jobs are viewed as necessary expenses or costs. You can improve the way you work, come up with cost-savings ideas, improve your skills and do extra tasks to improve your value.
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