What is imposter syndrome?

Imposter Syndrome is the feeling that you haven’t earned your success, you simply got lucky, and you’re a fraud or “imposter” around people who actually earned it and know what they’re doing. It makes one feel that they do not have the skills or expertise to hold their current job, but instead made it there “by chance;” they think if anyone found out how little they know about their job, they’d be fired immediately. Imposter Syndrome can cause people to doubt themselves and their ideas at work. This can lead people to avoid sharing their work, leading initiatives, or pursuing challenging tasks for fear of being discovered as an “imposter.”

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What is gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a manipulation strategy that makes someone question their self-worth and sanity. The term is derived from the 1930s play Gas Light, in which a husband makes his wife doubt her perception by manipulating the gas light but claiming to see nothing out of the ordinary himself. In a work environment, gaslighting can make someone feel incompetent or unimportant, like they can’t do anything right. They can feel like they don’t understand what’s going on around them or what’s expected of them. Gaslighting can come from a variety of people—a power-hungry manager, a competitive coworker, or a condescending client.

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Volunteering helped me navigate my own career journey

What a Peer Counselor has to say about their experience with Empower Work: While in a role researching tools and apps to improve interpersonal relationships in the workplace, I discovered Empower Work and was immediately drawn to their peer counselor training program. My initial interest in volunteering was to help others through tough experiences at work via active listening and empathy.

Their top learnings that have benefitted me as both a volunteer, and a professional:

  • Avoid heaping on “advice”  

  • Be empathetic and make it about them, not you!

  • Compose open-ended, thoughtful questions that empower the texter to build their solution

  • Use the resources provided, no matter how long you have been a peer counselor

  • Identify what is really bothering the texter and ensure you identify their ideal outcome

  • Get to know peer counselors and support staff, they are an inspiring group of people!

In addition to supporting texters, my experience with Empower Work helped me down a path of self-discovery, expanding my self worth beyond my job. This journey also helped me forgive, laugh, and move on from a toxic work relationship—freeing me from the unhealthy impact this can impose.

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What are microaggressions?

Microaggressions are harmful small, everyday phrases or actions that are targeted at a person based on their membership in a marginalized group. These actions are often not explicitly about someone’s identity, but implicitly insult and other someone’s race, gender, sexual orientation or disability status. At work, they can make people feel alienated, unsupported, vulnerable, disrespected, uncomfortable, and hurt. Microaggressions often reinforce a message to people from underrepresented groups of, “You are not one of us. You do not belong.”

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How to be a more supportive co-worker

We’ve all been there. A team member tells you they’re stressed out about an upcoming performance review.  A direct report approaches you about a conflict they’re facing with another employee. A work friend pulls you aside to fervently vent about their boss. Navigating these complex issues — particularly in environments where people don’t feel heard and respected — can feel confusing and isolating. During those challenging moments it’s more important than ever to show up for each other. While we can’t change the culture of a company overnight, there are a few simple things you can do to create space and help co-workers feel supported and heard.

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Why I’m Matching Donations to Empower Work

Here from Leigh Honeywell, who founded Tall Poppy, a company focused on fighting online harassment by working with employers to protect employees, on what she has to say about Empower Work and supporting each other in the workplace: “I’ve worked to understand the web of organizations whose missions touch the work we do. One of the most exciting organizations I’ve gotten to know in the field: Empower Work.”

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You’ve heard the term “microaggression,” but what does it mean?

Shannon Lubetich talks about committing microaggression, an action that does not necessarily reflect malicious intent but can nevertheless inflict insult or injury, typically to members of marginalized groups and often related to someone’s race, gender, sexual orientation or disability status. They repeatedly send a message to people from underrepresented groups of, “You are not one of us. You do not belong.”

Read about strategies for if you experience a microaggression in the workplace, witness a microaggression, or even commit a microaggression yourself.

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How I navigated the aftermath of a salary negotiation that left me feeling undervalued

Chris, one of our incredible volunteers, has generously chosen to share their story about reaching out to Empower Work as a texter. In this post they explore what the outcome was, and how it has changed they way they think about work.

Their issue: “I had just started a new job in a new industry and basically did a really bad job negotiating. I didn’t realize how much it was bothering me until a couple of months in. I feel like I struggle with salary a lot in several directions. Money should not be the way that people are valued. But also, in the world today, salary unfortunately represents the way your work is valued. I was struggling with feeling like my work wasn’t valued or respected.”

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Who are Empower Work Peer Counselors?

Empower Work peer counselors are working professionals who support people through tough work situations and workplace issues. They work across a range of fields and industries and cover a spectrum of geographies.

A number of volunteers say they’ve experienced a difficult work situation at some point in their own career. Many have benefited from mentorship and support during those challenging moments. Others didn’t have someone to turn to, and want to change that reality for other people. Despite their experiences, the motivation is the same: to be there for people when they need support at work.

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Volunteering changed how I interact with colleagues and friends

This post is part of our peer counselor Q&A series which shares the perspectives of our talented volunteers. Rachel is an Empower Work peer counselor and nonprofit professional in the Bay Area.

From Rachel: I saw an ad for Empower Work at a bus stop in San Francisco and went online to learn more. I was looking for a regular volunteer opportunity and was intrigued by the concept. After talking with Empower Work’s founder, I was truly excited by the opportunity to be a part of a mission-driven startup to see something grow from its early stages.

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Volunteering lets me help others while developing interpersonal skills

This post is part of our peer counselor Q&A series which shares the perspectives of our talented volunteers. Deborah is an Empower Work volunteer and career counselor for college students. When she's not using her counseling skills to help others, she's usually spending time with her family or enjoying one of her creative hobbies.

Her comments include, “We've all had moments of frustration at work and needed someone to talk to. I was excited to find an organization striving to address this through the use of technology. The peer counselor role was a perfect fit—I get to help others with struggles they may face at work while further developing my interpersonal skills.”

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

Laura, an Empower Work peer counselor, talks about how why she volunteers, and how she discovered Empower Work when she herself was in a difficult workplace situation.

From Laura: “The Empower Work peer counselor helped me realize that perhaps what I needed most was not necessarily leaving my job--but figuring out what I need to enjoy my job. The fact that the conversation was anonymous and via text allowed me to be more open. I was able to answer questions more honestly without fear of judgement or embarrassment. During such a difficult time, it was really helpful for me to use an anonymous platform to get it all out there to be fully supported in the best way possible for me.“

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