Everyone wants to get a raise or a promotion, but rare are those employees who ask, "What can I bring to the company?" What they don't know is, knowing how to add value to your company is the first step to getting a raise or promotion.
Companies succeed in part because they hire, train; and retain
talented employees that add value to the organization, and the people they
Even if your job description looks like a mere to-do list,
those tasks are there to achieve a specific outcome. How you execute these
tasks affect your employer’s return-on-investment (ROI) on hiring you.
Employees who know how to add value to their job tend to
command higher salaries, more exciting projects, and better job opportunities. Companies
value talent like this so much that they'll do everything possible to keep
that person, even in the event of a recession, layoff, or merger.
In this tutorial, we'll explore the concept of adding value to a company. I'll identify seven different ways you can add value to your company. Plus, I'll provide some job-specific examples of adding value to a company with real-life advice.
Debunking the Myth About Adding Value to a Company
I worked as a part-time Math and Science Tutor for high
school students back in college. Since I could only tutor an hour or two on
school days, I did extra hours on weekends and summers to earn more.
That was my first understanding of what it took to earn more
in the corporate world: more hours, more money.
I applied the same concept when I started working in
customer service. But then I wondered, what did it take to go from entry-level
customer service associate to trainer, team supervisor, or operations manager?
Some of my teammates had been at the same position for years so clearly, the same approach won’t work if I
wanted to level-up.
Many employees go about their professional lives equating
the years they’ve worked to the value they give. The corporate world doesn’t
work like that.
For example, an office manager could spend two years doing a
good job ordering office supplies so inventory doesn’t run out. Or that same
manager could find ways to help his employer by negotiating discounts with
vendors, buying in bulk to save more, or creating a sharing program between
teams so supplies don’t stack up in one area, while another one is always
Such strategies may not be in the manager’s job description.
You need to be proactive and creative to come up with these ideas, too. But
going that extra mile saves the employer thousands of dollars in expenses
annually. That’s how to bring added value to a company.
Now you might say doing
similar stuff oversteps your boundaries. It may or may not, depending on your
organization’s culture. If you get good results though, no one will complain.
Meeting Expectations, the Prerequisite to Adding Value to a Company
The first question you might ask is, “What can I bring to the company?” In reality, there’s a different
question you should ask first:
Are you meeting the
minimum expectations or requirements for your position?
A Gallup poll revealed that almost 50% of employees don’t know what their managers
expect of them. Also, some companies have limited or no official job
descriptions at all. Then there are roles where most of the items on your job description
are outdated, while the tasks you’re responsible for aren’t even on the list. It
can be confusing to figure this out on your own.
If you’re not 100% sure what’s expected of you, you should
talk to your manager first before trying to add more to your plate. Ask your
boss to enumerate the specific tasks you need to complete regularly and your ad-hoc duties, and how all
these tasks impact the company.
If your manager is just as confused or clueless about your
role, then it’s even more important that you talk things through. Together, you
can define the core objectives and the resulting tasks related to your job, as
well as the performance metrics you need to hit so you can objectively say that
you met or exceeded expectations.
7 Different Ways Employees Can Add Value to Their Organization
It's not difficult to add value to your company if you know what to do. Here are seven specific actions you can take no matter what your current job is:
1. Good Customer Service
Customers are creatures of habit. They buy the same shampoo,
eat the same food, and use the same products or services they love—until
another business steps in and offers them something better.
Good customer service then
isn’t just about serving the customer’s needs. You should make sure customers are so awed
by the quality of service you provide that they wouldn’t think of checking another brand.
2. Bring In More Money
Adding a few thousand
or an extra zero to your employer’s bottom line is one of the biggest and most
obvious ways of adding value to a company.
This is easy for people in sales and marketing jobs, but
what if you’re in IT support, admin, training, or customer service roles? What
can you contribute to the team?
First, determine your impact on
the bottom line by dividing the company’s revenue with the total number of
employees. To increase your average contribution, employees in
non-sales roles can:
- Customer service - upsell products to existing customers
Training - train customer service in improving customer experience,
and frontline retail staff in new sales techniques
Admin roles - make sure everyone has the paperwork, product samples,
and other marketing paraphernalia they need to impress potential customers
3. Improve the Efficiency of a Protocol or
Just because something is working, doesn’t mean it can’t be
improved. This applies to almost every routine, tedious, and repetitive
task you do.
- Monthly reports
- Client presentations
- Minutes of the meeting
- Price quotations
- Invoicing and billing
- Inventory management
Anything that can be streamlined into a series of
definite tasks can be automated. Even manual tasks can be
streamlined if you examine the process carefully, and eliminate unnecessary
Be careful not to automate or cut corners in the wrong
places. You don’t want to take shortcuts that could lead to more problems in
4. Save Resources
As in the office administrator example described above,
helping your employer save money makes you a valuable employee.
It’s not just about money though. Completing your work on
time, so you don’t have to work after hours counts as savings too.
5. Get Recognized as an “Expert” in a Specific Task
Have you noticed how companies usually have an “Excel guy,” “IT guy” or “Facebook Ads Whiz?” Sometimes their
expertise isn’t their main job, but they’re the go-to people when someone needs
help in the task they’re known for.
Being an expert in a task can increase your contribution to
the company, more so if you help others with their work. If you help others, then they’ll
spread the word about you and your contribution will no longer be limited to
your own work but extend to the wide array of people you assist.
For instance, as the company’s resident copywriter, your
wordsmithing skills can help the HR department write better job advertisements or the admin team to write
clearer and engaging company memos. Helping employees from other departments
also build your network, so you can count
on them when you’re the one who needs help in the future.
Examples of skills
you can learn that can be helpful in different roles:
- Excel can help with anything from building a better invoicing system or a customized product inventory
Photoshop can help your employer
design better brochures and marketing paraphernalia
Website design is great for people who work in small companies that don’t have enough funds to
outsource this task, or hire an in-house developer full time. You don’t need to
learn programming to create a beautiful site.
Social media, don’t let your
employer get behind on social media. Create online accounts for them if they
don’t have one, or offer to update their social media strategy if they’re not getting traction.
Need help with any of the skills listed above? Check out these tutorials:
6. Reduce Your Manager’s Stress and Workload
You’re not doing this to be the teacher’s pet. You’re doing
this because you want to get exciting “above
your pay-grade” projects, and showing that you’re capable of handling more
tasks is one way to prove you’re ready for such a responsibility.
Volunteering to take on more tasks, even those at your
current skill level also contributes to the company.
Why? Because it frees up your manager to take on more
high-level tasks that they couldn’t get to yet because they’re swamped with
less important, but urgent, concerns. Sometimes, these tasks include filing paperwork for leaves, benefits, and payroll.
Other times it could be a bit more complicated, like researching information
for a presentation they’re supposed to finish within the week. Whatever it is,
your boss will appreciate you for lightening their workload.
These good deeds will come in handy when your annual
performance review comes around.
7. Solve Problems
No one likes a whiner. It’s easy to criticize a new product
or service, and even easier to complain about the resources and protocols you've got at work. Only a few employees, however, will take the time to find out
what can be done to improve the situation.
Next time you encounter a problem, spend time researching
two to three possible solutions then create a detailed action plan for each of
those solutions, so you can present it to your boss. You’ll earn your manager’s
respect and solve a problem for your team if even one of your ideas works.
If this happens enough times, you’ll be seen as the problem
solver of the group and pretty soon your boss will want your opinion and help
on even bigger projects.
5 Examples of How to Add Value in Different Jobs
1. Consultants and IT Professionals
IT and consulting companies often have too much
documentation because of the different projects they handle. Even documentation
for projects completed a year before is kept in case of a problem—or if a code
or feature in it might come in handy for a similar project in the future.
Sometimes a procedure is updated but the documentation is not.
All this information makes it hard for new-hires and
non-technical staff to find what they need. To avoid this, you can create a quick-guide
or master list of documentation around a
specific product, client, or task. You don’t even have to list all the
information in the guide you create. Just write a short description for each
procedure, and include the link to where the documentation is found in your
Even if your company doesn’t have lots of documentation, you
can still add value by keeping projects, meeting notes, product guides, and tasks organized
with the help of the following tools:
Slack - keep all your team’s
communications in one place
Zipline - centralized
communication, and to-do list tracking for retail businesses
Trello - the perfect tool if you use the
PracticePanther - a management software specific for lawyers, where they can view ongoing cases,
bill clients, and delegate tasks in a secure network
Basecamp - centralizes all your team’s project,
chats, to-dos, deadlines, and files
2. Writers and Creatives
at Copywrite Matters suggests using a copy deck on every project. It’s a
template that contains everything your client may need on the copy you submit,
and it’s designed to make your copy easier to read, revise, and implement. It
makes you look professional, too.
What’s included in a
typical copy deck:
- Client name
- Project name, Specific Item (e.g.
Website Copy, Home page)
- Contact person
- Date of submission and version
number (e.g. 10/01/17 v1)
- Revision instruction
- The actual copy
As a writer, companies hire you for your wordsmithing skills
so sometimes a phrase might look simple even if it took you days to come up
with it. Use the notes section to explain your rationale for phrases like this
in your copy, and to remind clients that they didn’t just pay you for flowery words.
Another problem a good copy deck solves is the feedback
process. Some clients just say “I don’t
like it,” but don’t bother to tell you why. As a copywriter, or any type of
creative really, this type of feedback won’t help you.
You've got to give your client a framework to give you
feedback. The questions above can help your clients articulate what
exactly they don’t like about your copy. It also makes it clear that the
copywriting process is a two-way street that needs a well-thought out feedback.
Copy decks can be adapted for other creative jobs, like
video editing or graphic design. Instead of including the bullets and revision
process in the image or video you’re submitting, you can just include it in
your email or submit a separate file with this information.
Example feedback prompts for
- How is the color scheme?
- How are the image sizes? Is the
image’s main focus highlighted enough or are other elements detracting from it?
- Is the product’s benefit shown
3. Frontline Service Jobs
This example applies to any employee working in
customer-facing roles for the retail, travel, and food industry.
“Creating the right
experience” or ambiance, as some people like to call it, isn’t easy. It’s
not as simple as adding music or picking the right seating and tableware. You've got to understand your customer.
In the book, The Shopping Revelation, Professor Barbara Khan of the University
of Pennsylvania cites Costco and TJ Maxx, two retailers that created a unique shopping experience they know
their customers will love.
To capitalize on that desire, TJ Maxx and Costco created a “treasure hunt” experience in their
stores, where customers will have to visit regularly because the deals change often.
Customers crave the thrill of finding those deals before the products
are sold out or the deals change again.
Now you may not have the retail might of Costco, but as a
frontline employee you can suggest a small-scale version of this idea to your
management. In reality, the strategy above is just a fancier version of the
“get a free gift with a purchase of X” or "50% of X, while supplies last" that many stores and restaurants run.
4. Sales Professionals
The 2017 National Retail Federation’s survey shows that over one-third of shoppers admit their weekend splurges are influenced
by promotional deals.
One way to take advantage of this is to tell customers about
upcoming deals and promotions so they come back on those dates.
As a sales associate, you build customer loyalty by helping
people get the best value for their money. Believe it or not, this includes
telling them if an item they like will go on sale next week, so they can
wait to purchase it then instead of paying the full
retail price now. The store will lose a few dollars up front but you’ll earn that back once that customer tells his
friends about the sale, and continues shopping in your store for the
foreseeable future because he knows you’re not going to rip him off.
5. Software Engineers
Write easy to maintain and modular code. Don’t make your
code complicated. Software Engineer Ian Peter Campbell posted this answer on a
Quora question about how engineers can add value.
“The easier it
is to pull pieces out to use elsewhere in other company applications or tools,
or the easier it is to pull out something old and replace it with the new
hotness, the more value you're adding.”
Complex code, he adds, won’t help the next engineer who
might work on your program. Your code may end up wasting the company a lot of
money because it takes time to figure out.
Your Employment Is a Commercial Relationship
As an employee, you’re a service provider and the employer
is your client. Successful service providers continuously look for ways to add
value to their clients. They try to up-sell, cross-sell, and add value wherever
they can, which means they go out of their way to take on more responsibility
because they know that’s the best way to keep a client.
If you want to get a promotion, get a raise, or even a new
project that'll boost your resume, you've got to step up. Start by learning how to add value to your company today.