How to Unearth the Unsung Heroes in Your Workplace

We all know what heroes look like. Draped in a colourful cape with an extravagant mask, your hero will be instantly recognisable, drawing attention to themselves with the very public displays of success in the workplace. They might have bagged the most sales in the calendar year (hurrah!) or negotiated a huge contract extension with a major client (hooray!).

It’s easy to spot and recognise those that are on the front line and making very public contributions to the success of the company. They will tend to hold senior roles and will be the focus of any significant projects, holding the reigns and taking ultimate responsibility for the success of failure of a specific area of the business.

And while they are holding the reigns and taking the applause, it’s important not to forget the work horses that go unnoticed in the background. Those that have made sacrifices and given everything while not necessarily holding the spotlight. These are the enablers, those that it would be impossible to succeed without but who may get left out while the congratulatory back slapping is taking place.

So how do you unearth the unsung heroes in your workplace? Here are some common traits you can look for:


This trait is the one that makes your unsung hero hard to spot. They will rarely draw attention to themselves and if praise comes their way, they will often deflect it onto the wider team or other individuals. They might not want a huge fuss to be made, but make sure that they know they are appreciated. It is these secret stars that may be the first to the exit door if they start to feel disenfranchised or taken advantage of, so make sure you know how each member of your team would prefer to be recognised.

Just because they’re sharing the credit, it doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy of receiving it.

Committed to the Cause

Your hero will be sending emails at midnight, and ensure that anyone important is copied in for good measure. Your hero will be the last one out and the first one in to the office. They will have their sleeves rolled up and will have people bringing them coffee and food all day, so busy are they that they cannot leave their desks. Great! But this isn’t how everyone shows commitment.

What about the person that has moved their children’s’ nursery days around to make sure that they can be there on deadline day? What about the person that has been so organised that the work seems to have been done as if by magic while everyone else is visibly battling to get it all done? How about the person that stands to lose their holiday allowance because they have come to work during a busy period, knowing that they will be needed?

Commitment doesn’t always have to be visible. It’s often the “swans” in your organisation that seem visibly calm but that are kicking hard under the surface that you need to pay particular attention to.


When you go into that important meeting, the agenda is all there. The coffees have been ordered. Attention has been paid to the client’s dietary requirements when the lunch is brought through. Your presentation is already there and waiting on the screen to avoid the obligatory half an hour of fighting with technology before you can begin. But how did all of this happen?

If there is someone on your team that is thinking ahead, being proactive and anticipating the needs and requirements of the business without being asked, it’s easy to take advantage of that and expect it to be the norm. In reality, if this person left then so would these elements that are all too easily taken for granted. They are your professional edge. They add the sleek, effortless vision to your brand and business that other people will notice, even if you don’t.

If there’s someone like this in your organisation, it’s a skill that’s impossible to train, so make sure that they don’t go unnoticed.

At RecruitmentRevolution, we’re proud to be helping to honour these heroes of the workplace by sponsoring the Unsung Hero of the Year Award 2019 at the The 2019 Onrec Awards on 7th March.

If you have an unsung hero in your organisation, why not nominate them for an award next year? Even if you don’t, make sure that you operate culture of recognition and know how to unearth the hidden stars within your business.