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 serve.
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 lacking.
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 Procedure
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 steps.
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 the future.
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. Discover great WordPress themes on Envato Elements or GraphicRiver.
- 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:
- Web Design10 Quick Tips: How to Make Your Website Homepage Design BetterCeline (CX) Roque
- Social MediaHootsuite vs. Buffer vs. Sprout Social: What Is the Best Social Media Management Tool?Brenda Barron
- CareersHow to Make a Great LinkedIn Profile (+18 Best Tips)Charley Mendoza
- Microsoft ExcelHow to Format Your Excel Spreadsheets (Complete Guide)Andrew Childress
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 database.
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 Kanban method
- 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
Belinda Weaver 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 designers:
- 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 clearly?
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
Shoppers always love limited-time promotional deals. So why not 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 those customers tells their friends about the sale, and continue shopping in your store for the foreseeable future because they know you’re not going to rip them 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.
Editorial Note: This content was originally published in 2018. We're sharing it again because our editors have determined that this information is still accurate and relevant.
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