Imposter syndrome

As a growing proportion of the workforce returns to the office, there are fears that more people will once again begin to suffer the psychological effects of imposter syndrome.

Studies have shown that over three-quarters of all UK adults experience imposter syndrome at some point in their lives, with office workers among the most likely sufferers. Imposter syndrome is essentially an irrational fear of being ‘found out’ or exposed as a fraud by colleagues despite evidence to the contrary.

Common signs of imposter syndrome include:

  • Bouts of self-doubt
  • An inability to accurately assess your competence and skills
  • Putting any successes down to external factors
  • Being overly critical of your job performance
  • A fear of disappointing.

In 2020, a study by the University of Nottingham found that working from home can mitigate these feelings, with the research reporting a 75% decline in feelings of imposter syndrome compared to the previous year. A return to the office could therefore see the problem flare up again for many workers.

HR experts, however, have put forward a number of strategies to help people overcome imposter syndrome:

  • Congratulate yourself on your achievements when you perform well
  • Focus on facts and don’t allow emotions to override logic
  • Never make assumptions about how colleagues feel about you
  • Don’t put too much pressure on yourself when completing new tasks
  • Talk to colleagues that you feel comfortable opening up to at work.