Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

3 in 5 UK employees experience imposter syndrome, but 94% haven’t discussed it at work

Three in five workers experience imposter syndrome with women and younger people disproportionately more likely to have feelings of self doubt, according to a new report from the global jobsite Indeed.

  • Imposter Syndrome affects three in five workers in the UK
  • Almost twice as many women suffer from feelings of self doubt than men 
  • During Mental Health Awareness Week, Indeed’s “Working on Wellbeing” report highlights employees are still not receiving support needed to break the stigma 

Three in five workers experience imposter syndrome with women and younger people disproportionately more likely to have feelings of self doubt, according to a new report from the global jobsite Indeed

The findings from Indeed’s Working on Wellbeing report are based on a YouGov survey of 2,500 UK workers around mental health and highlight how workers still are not getting the support needed from their employer.  

Imposter syndrome — feelings of self-doubt and failure that override success at work — is one of the most common mental health issues in today’s workplace, with nearly 3 in 5 (58%) employees experiencing imposter syndrome. 

Nearly twice as many more women (21%) suffer very frequently or always from imposter syndrome than men (12%). Notably, millennial respondents (25 to 39-year-olds) are the age group most likely to feel like frauds in the workplace (27%), whereas only a small proportion of workers aged 65 and above regularly suffer from feelings of self-doubt (3%). 

Collectively, these statistics are dwarfed by transgender respondents of whom a massive 64% regularly feel like a failure at work. Overall, more than 1 in 10 (13%) employees and 1 in 5 (20%) of senior managers admit they ‘always’ or ‘very frequently’ feel like a fraud. 

Despite its prevalence, a huge 94% of those who have suffered from imposter syndrome haven’t discussed their feelings at work. Of those that are uncomfortable telling their manager their feelings of ‘frequent’ self-doubt, nearly two thirds (61%) fear they could be seen as a less capable employee. 

Half (52%) say they would be embarrassed, 1 in 3 (33%) worry that it would not be taken seriously and 29% are concerned that their manager would tell others in the organisation. As a result, only 56% of these individuals feel supported in the workplace.

Of the many negative effects associated with frequent imposter syndrome, the trickle-down impact translates to greater levels of procrastination (63%), longer working hours (57%), higher staff turnover (44%), a loss in productivity (41%), as well as employees avoiding applying for internal promotions (39%). 

The findings underline the need — and complex challenge — for organisations to make every worker feel like they truly belong and that their voice is heard and they can contribute fully and thrive.

Misty Gaither, Senior Director and Global Head of Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging at Indeed comments: “The findings of the report emphasise the importance of connecting the statements about wellbeing with tangible action - enhanced benefits, policy and process changes or refreshes.. Put another way — we should normalise and encourage discussions about well-being and remove the myth that it will hurt their career. Being more open can actually enhance how people experience the workplace and give new meaning to their work. ‘

“As we continue to live through residual impacts of a pandemic, and with flexible work arrangements a permanent fixture in the future of work, this window of time presents organisations with an opportunity to experiment and evolve their operations as we transition into a post-pandemic environment.”

“When it comes to employee mental health and wellbeing, to enact sustainable change, employers must show up as authentic, human centric, empathetic leaders, while creating both short and long term solutions.”

“To do this, they must create psychologically safe environments, foster a company culture, where employees feel valued, trusted and appreciated, allowing them to contribute fully and thrive. Leading with vulnerability and empathy  is a non negotiable. In the current tight labour market, where power has see-sawed back to jobseekers, this is business critical.”