What's it Like to Text with an Empower Work Peer Counselor?
By: Lauren Brisbo, Communications Lead at Empower Work
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.
What kind of work issues we cover
Some of the most common issues we hear about include interpersonal issues with co-workers and managers, big job decisions, toxic work environments, fear of getting fired, and salary negotiations––just to name a few.
What’s considered tough can be very personal. One texter might be grappling with the decision to leave their company while they still have student loans to pay off; and another might be dread going to the office because their boss constantly undermines and belittles them.
Texters are sometimes hesitant to reach out because they say their issue isn’t as severe as the ones they’re reading about in the news. But here's the thing: anything that’s affecting your ability to work in the ways you want or limiting your career potential is worth talking about. While issues like microagressive behavior and toxic workplaces don’t often make the headlines, they often dramatically affect the choices people make day-to-day at work. And this can have a lasting impact, affecting everything from how much money someone makes, to where they work, to how far they make it in their company or organization.
How to get connected to a trained peer counselor
It's easy to connect. Simply text a message to 510-674-1414 or use the chat window in the bottom right corner of our website. Our hours of operation are 8:30am-8:00pm PT, Monday-Friday. If you catch us during off hours, we can text you back when we re-open.
What to expect
You’ll immediately receive an automated message that asks you to review and agree to our terms and conditions. Once you review, and reply “yes,” you’ll be connected to a peer counselor within 10 minutes (usually even faster!). All of our peer counselors are working professionals who go through and extensive training process.
Peer counselors start by asking a few questions to understand the situation like: What’s going on at work? What prompted your outreach today? Has this happened before? How much time do you have to chat? They’re there to be an advocate--to listen, support, and guide texters every step of the way.
Finding the next step that feels right
Conversations that start out about bad bosses, toxic workplaces, or a terrifying performance review often end in fruitful realizations about work, action plans that are aligned with the texter’s values, and a general sense of confidence and being back in the driver’s seat. While the conversations are all unique and personal, the arc of the conversation is nearly always the same: moving from confusion to clarity.
Just like every work issue is unique, so is every next step. For some it’s kick-starting a networking plan to find a new dream job, and for others it’s heading into a performance review feeling prepared and confident. A few weeks after a conversation, over 91 percent of texters report still feeling confident, and taking an action that resulted in an outcome they wanted.
Texters express their appreciation in myriad ways. Many note that they feel more confident and self-assured in their anonymous post-user survey, and thank their peer counselor for their guidance; while others will express it in conversation with an energetic “I can do this!”, “go team!!!”, or simply 🤗.
Seeing this kind of feedback not only helps us know what's working well––it also validates the importance, and impact, of being there for people during their most difficult times at work. Big or small, each next step is building forward momentum toward a brighter future.