From texter to volunteer: how Empower Work helped me at a tough moment

From texter to volunteer: how Empower Work helped me at a tough moment

I found Empower Work by accident. I was job hunting in a Facebook group and stumbled upon an ad about Empower Work looking for volunteers. I looked over the website and realized this was an amazing resource and the one I needed for myself at the time.

I was having a rough time at work and was tired of talking to my coworkers about it. I felt like my coworkers were tired of listening to me as well--especially with the added fear that someone might accidentally slip up and mention something to our mutual supervisor.

I needed a sounding board outside of my company to talk to about how I was feeling and what to do. Empower Work was that sounding board for me.

You've got an ethical issue at work. Now what?

You've got an ethical issue at work. Now what?

Ethical questions within workplaces are arising more frequently in the public dialogue--from Facebook engineers requesting transfers following the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, Google employees quitting over a controversial project, and even Silicon Valley being equated to the banking industry during the mortgage meltdown.

Meanwhile, hashtags like #TechWontBuildIt are trending on Twitter as a employees protest what they view as unethical behavior.

Have a bad boss at work? You’re not alone

Have a bad boss at work? You’re not alone

Ever had a bad manager at work? Have one now? Chances are yes. A recent Gallup study revealed that one in two adults in the U.S. have left their job to get away from their manager at some point in their career.

A full-time employee spends more than 2,000 hours at work each year. It’s no surprise that having a manager that you just don’t jive with can affect your happiness and well-being at work, and beyond. Gallup explains that, “having a bad manager is often a one-two punch: Employees feel miserable while at work, and that misery follows them home, compounding their stress and negatively affecting their overall well-being.”

Meet an Empower Work Volunteer: Sarah

Meet an Empower Work Volunteer: Sarah

This post is part of our peer counselor Q&A series which shares the perspectives of our talented volunteers. Sarah is a career counselor with nearly a decade of experience working in higher education. Her focus is on helping women build confidence in the workplace, leadership development, and salary negotiation.

What inspired you to become a volunteer? 

I was at the point in my career where I was looking for an opportunity to expand my career coaching skills and grow as a professional. When I discovered Empower Work and learned about the mission, I was immediately excited about the idea of being a part of this movement/company. I’ve had my share of difficult workplace experiences and many times, I had no idea who to talk to or what my options were to move forward. It was important to me to help other navigate their own workplace challenges and potentially avoid similar situations.

What's it Like to Text with an Empower Work Peer Counselor?

What's it Like to Text with an Empower Work Peer Counselor?

Have you ever taken off on an airplane in dark and stormy weather, only to break through the clouds into clear skies and sunshine? You may have experienced a sense of calm and relief––and maybe even a tinge of amazement that those clear skies were even closer than you thought.

Facing tough issues at work can be emotionally draining, confusing, and stressful––like you’re stuck under the clouds. As the first confidential text line for work issues, we’re on a mission to support people through their toughest, stormiest moments by helping them find a next step that feels right.

If you have a non-legal issue that’s impacting your ability to thrive at work, our peer counselors can help.

Meet an Empower Work Volunteer: Tracy

Meet an Empower Work Volunteer: Tracy

This post is part of our peer counselor Q&A series that shares the perspectives of our talented volunteers. Tracy Young is an Empower Work peer counselor and a human resources professional focusing on engagement, development, and leadership.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A VOLUNTEER?

I believe every employee deserves the opportunity to have a safe, compassionate, and unbiased support to discuss their work issues without fear of retribution.

WHAT WAS THE MOST VALUABLE PART OF THE TRAINING EXPERIENCE FOR YOU?

Training included many valuable tools to help peer counselors prepare, including hands-on practice. Though the most powerful lesson was a self-reflective exercise that asked each volunteer to consider and identify their own biases.  The exercise reminds us that as counselors we have to meet our texters where they are––and to not let our own biases interfere with helping them discover their own solution.

Workplace Issues are Everywhere. Now What?

Workplace Issues are Everywhere. Now What?

Professor Says the Workplace Is the Fifth Leading Cause of Death in the U.S. 
Pregnancy Discrimination Is Rampant Inside America’s Biggest Companies
78% of Employees in Tech Report Experiencing Unfair Behavior or Treatment

These are just a few recent headlines about the American workplace. From microaggressions and gaslighting to being groped by customers to HR teams that retaliate against employees for reporting issues, there’s no shortage of toxic and unacceptable behavior.

The headlines paint a bleak picture. And prompt a critical question: “now what?”

While it’s important to draw attention to these issues in workplaces, it’s equally––if not even more important––to talk about avenues for support and change.

It Started With a Question and 60 Fliers

It Started With a Question and 60 Fliers

One year ago, I sent a file to print — 60 fliers I’d thrown together to test an idea. When I picked up the order, an employee at Office Depot gestured to the paper and asked, “so, what does this number do?”

“Good question,” I replied. “People can text to talk through a challenging work situation. Is that something you’d ever use?”

“Uh, yes. I can’t believe something like this doesn’t exist.”

“Me too. That’s why I printed these. To see who might use it.”

TESTING A THEORY

The idea had been sparked by a question: why wasn’t there an easily accessible resource for people facing work challenges?


What Happened at Snap Isn’t an Anomaly

What Happened at Snap Isn’t an Anomaly

When I first read Shannon’s message, I didn’t know what she meant. While people are listening?

After a few seconds of scrolling I realized: she’d gone public.

Rewind to a few weeks back. Shannon and I were chatting in the kitchen at The Assembly, a space our team uses for work. The conversation ranged broadly and then she paused, “so tell me more about what you do.”

I mentioned I ran an organization that provides free, immediate, anonymous support via text for challenging work situations.

“Wow, I could have used something like that.”

Shannon shared a bit of her experience — that she’d been an engineer at Snap; that it was a toxic, sexist environment; that she’d decided to leave not just Snap, but likely engineering altogether. She was taking time to figure it out.

When it comes to workplace issues we need real humans, not listicles

When it comes to workplace issues we need real humans, not listicles

Last week, I noticed this popular Forbes video and article making the rounds on LinkedIn. It had accumulated nearly two thousand likes and donned a compelling title: ‘4 Ways to Manage a Difficult Boss.’

My curiosity was peaked. The video launched with the stat that over 50 percent of employees have left their job at some point in their career because of a conflict with a manager. Through my training as a volunteer peer counselor with Empower Work, I’ve learned that most workplace issues are interpersonal in nature. Our experiences on the job are largely shaped by our relationships — with co-workers, bosses, managers, and the like.

What to do When Your Work Problem Isn't a Legal Issue

What to do When Your Work Problem Isn't a Legal Issue

A boss starts cancelling your check-ins after you give them feedback. A co-worker routinely undermines and interrupts you during meetings. You’ve been passed over for a promotion twice. Even after speaking to a lawyer, you’re not sure what to do.

Every day, across every workplace in America, people face challenges that don’t necessarily fall into a legal category. Instead, they fall into a vast gray area where solutions are rarely black and white. These issues--while not legal in nature--affect how we show up at work, and can have a lasting impact on a career. In a recent study, over 95 percent of people surveyed faced at least one challenging situation at work. Half left their job as a result.

Announcing a new partnership with Omidyar Network

Announcing a new partnership with Omidyar Network

We’re excited to announce a partnership with Omidyar Network to reach more people across the tech industry with our immediate, anonymous text support for challenging work situations.

Since starting in 2017, Empower Work has supported people across a range of industries, with tech being the largest represented.

“Omidyar Network’s partnership will expand our ability to support people grappling with work challenges,” said Jaime-Alexis Fowler, executive director of Empower Work. “We’re at a critical moment, particularly in tech, to shift how we empower employees. We provide a space to talk through issues ranging from subtle gendered comments to concerns about ethical product decisions. Our goal is that every user leaves a conversation feeling supported, and most important, empowered to take an action that makes sense for them.”

Five Ways to Take Action for Equal Pay

Five Ways to Take Action for Equal Pay

I still remember the red fibers on the carpet of the hotel room in Chicago when a friend shared her salary. I was 29, my friend was a few years older. We were at a conference of emerging progressive leaders--a convening ripe for discussions of how we can all positively shift the future and economic opportunity of many. Yet her simple sharing caught me off guard.

Though she was further into her career and in a slightly different industry, I was staggered by our pay discrepancy.

“Do you know what you should be making?” she asked me. “You need to find out.”

That simple conversation changed how I’ve approached compensation ever since.

Five Reasons to Volunteer with Empower Work

Five Reasons to Volunteer with Empower Work

Over the past few months I’ve had the opportunity to train and work with our extraordinary network of peer counselors. These volunteers are the heart and soul of Empower Work. They are working professionals from a range of industries and backgrounds—united in their mission to support people through their most challenging workplace issues. They are leaders, managers, coaches, and mentors.

Empower Work volunteers support people as they grapple with some of their biggest challenges at work. Sometimes that might mean navigating a difficult conversation with a boss; other times it might mean weighing the pros and cons of leaving a job. It’s truly amazing how one conversation can help people feel heard, supported, and empowered. 

A $100,000 Moment Thanks to the Pineapple Fund 🍍

A $100,000 Moment Thanks to the Pineapple Fund 🍍

This week, Empower Work received a game-changing $100,000 donation from the Pineapple Fund. The fund was started by an anonymous donor, “Pine,” who is making “bold, smart bets that hopefully impact everyone in the world” by giving away $86 million in Bitcoin.

Pineapple Fund’s transformative gifts to 30+ organizations have been highlighted by the New York TimesCNBCMashable not just for the impact, but for the intriguing new way that cryptocurrency is influencing philanthropy. Pine’s contribution is our largest individual gift to date — and our first Bitcoin donation.

It’s a powerful reminder of how a seemingly simple moment can be a turning point, and that’s core to our mission.

It's Time to Reshape How We Support and Empower People at Work

It's Time to Reshape How We Support and Empower People at Work

It’s a critical moment. With new headlines every day on harassment, bullying, and myriad daily disrespects and aggressions, people are asking important questions about their own experiences and power dynamics in workplaces across the country.

We need to change how we support and empower employees.

The problem — and the opportunity — is huge. It’s going to need big ideas and new approaches rooted in understanding what’s worked and what hasn’t.

At Empower Work, we’ve been in semi-stealth mode testing a new model — free, immediate, anonymous support via text or web chat.

Using My Executive Coaching Skills in a New Way To Help Others

Using My Executive Coaching Skills in a New Way To Help Others

At points in our careers, we’re going to run into tough moments. What’s tough can vary from person to person. Maybe it’s about getting yelled at in a meeting or being fairly compensated for your work. Maybe it’s about being asked to do something that goes against your values or deciding the next step in your career. Maybe it’s something more subtle — a boss not looking you in the eye during a meeting that hints at some larger issues.

I’ve been an executive coach, consultant, and trainer in the areas of leadership and organizational development for over 15 years. I’ve launched executive coaching programs in multiple countries, worked with clients like T-Mobile and Intel, and supported countless friends and family members through tough work situations. What I’d never done until this summer is coach someone via text.