The past three years of cascading crises have introduced a visceral understanding of just how volatile and unpredictable the workplace can be. People have had more time for reflection and introspection. And we’ve spent hours looking at our own video images thanks to virtual platforms. Is it any wonder that many employees are experiencing a dip in confidence? Various studies have uncovered a significant lack of certainty in everything from their skills to their networks:

    • More than one-third of those polled by Degreed feel less confident that they have the skills to do their jobs well (compared to pre-pandemic).
    • A mere 9% of tech workers express feeling confident in their job security, according to a survey from Blind.
    • Only one out of four employees participating in a recent Gartner poll is confident about their career path at their current organization.
    • Approximately 9 in 10 women aren’t confident in their professional networks according to research conducted by Fairygodboss. The same study reports that 1 in 2 women are not very confident at work right now.

Add to all of this the usual run-of-the-mill imposter syndrome that 65% of the population experiences according to InnovateMR, and it’s safe to say that we have a crisis of confidence in today’s workplace.

Why Does It Matter?

Anyone who’s ever felt a dip in confidence knows the personal discomfort it inspires — discomfort that likely compounds already extraordinary levels of burnout.

But the potential consequences extend far beyond personal feelings into the realm of performance and retention. According to research conducted by Indeed, 98% of those surveyed reported performing better when they feel confident and a whopping 96% are more likely to stay if they feel confident. As a result, there’s a clear business case to understand and address this crisis of confidence — now.

How Can We “Make It” So They Don’t Have to “Fake It”?

The often-touted advice, “fake it ‘til you make it,” may only be exacerbating the problem. Employees may be inclined to put on their game faces and force confidence issues underground, amplifying existing stress and anxiety levels. Fortunately, there are countless budget-neutral strategies to elevate confidence in ways that simultaneously support the individual and organization. Consider leveraging executives, managers and learning to make this happen.

Leverage executives to elevate confidence. A lack of confidence — whether in one’s capacity, job security, career path or professional network — frequently triggers shame and secrecy on the part of employees. Executives demonstrating vulnerability, authenticity and transparency around their own struggles and lack of certainty offers a measure of psychological safety for others to do the same.

Leverage managers to elevate confidence. Managers need your help to develop the confidence required to take constructive action. This might include tools, templates or strategies for engaging in meaningful, ongoing dialogue with employees. Conversation — whether scheduled and formal or more ad hoc — builds trust, rapport and relationships. It allows managers to regularly check in with others, monitor changes and pick up on changes in confidence levels.

Additionally, most managers would benefit from enhancing their ability to offer candid yet constructive feedback. Knowing that they have someone they can count on for honesty goes a long way toward addressing employee confidence issues.

Leverage learning to elevate confidence. Want to take advantage of your current learning efforts to strategically address confidence as well? Ask yourself if you’re:

    • Offering the experiences and skills people need to thrive today and embrace tomorrow.
    • Making learning accessible at the point of need.
    • Ensuring sufficient application, rehearsal, practice and feedback to promote a sense of competence and mastery.
    • Facilitating connections among learners to build workplace relationships and support.

Confidence — long known to contribute to personal satisfaction and well-being — also leads to business success. Which is why now is the perfect time to conquer the crisis and begin cultivating greater confidence.