10 Ways to Advocate for Yourself in the Workplace

Well-being

April 15, 2024

Taryn Hart

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X min

6 min

Employee well-being, employee advocacy and how to help your organization understand what you’re struggling with and what you need to succeed.

Table of Contents

There’s a superpower that’s often overlooked but incredibly potent—employee advocacy.  

Imagine every employee turning into their company’s number one fan, not because they have to, but because they genuinely love their job and believe in their company’s mission.  

That’s employee advocacy in a nutshell. It’s about employees voluntarily singing their company’s praises to the world, be it through word of mouth, social media, or any platform they prefer. Being an employee advocate means carrying a spark of genuine enthusiasm for your workplace, and being a walking billboard for your company's values, culture, and mission. The sense of belonging and purpose it takes to create employee advocates is crucial in today’s job market. Companies need to focus on attracting not just customers but also top talent who want to be part of what you’re creating.

That said, it’s important to recognize that before employees can become advocates for their organization, they first need to become advocates for themselves.  

Employee well-being directly impacts employee advocacy

To excel in your role and navigate your career path as you envision, having the right tools and support is non-negotiable. We're all on a quest to meet our current job requirements while also paving the way towards our future ambitions. Often, this journey requires individuals to champion their own professional development.

The importance of self-advocacy is a frequent topic in discussions around diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI), employee engagement, career advancement, and employee well-being. Too often organizations think employee well-being can be determined holistically across the entire organization, but that’s not enough. Employee well-being should also focus on employees’ individual needs and communication between managers and employees.  

Utilizing the right tools to support employee well-being

To truly support employee well-being, companies need to harness the power of the right tools. Especially today, with so many organizations supporting employees working remotely, it’s crucial for organizations to leverage the right systems to support employee wellness.  

Employee recognition software

Recognition software, like Kudos, plays a pivotal role, offering a platform for acknowledging and celebrating employees' contributions in real-time, ensuring employees feel valued and appreciated, no matter where they work from.  

Pulse surveys to collect valuable feedback

Equally important are pulse surveys, which provide a safe, anonymous avenue for employees to share their feedback and feelings. This not only helps in gathering valuable insights into the collective and individual employee experience but also in identifying areas needing attention or improvement.  

The right communication tools

Instilling robust communication tools are essential, especially in the age of remote and hybrid work . These tools ensure that every employee, regardless of their location, feels connected, included, and can communicate their needs.  

Utilizing the right technologies forms a support system that enables organizations to nurture a workplace that prioritizes and actively promotes well-being at every level.

Every organization wants their employees to thrive – that's the foundation of an exceptional workplace culture – but they won’t know what their employees need unless employees know how to communicate their needs.  

This is a great resource to share with your team to start the conversation:

How to advocate for yourself in the workplace

Helping your organization understand what you’re struggling with and what you need to succeed benefits everyone involved. Being an employee advocate for yourself, or self-advocating, means championing your own cause, standing up for your needs and goals, and ensuring you’re heard, valued, and understood. Navigating the workplace not just as a participant but as an active player in your own career journey.

Keep in mind these questions when starting your self-advocacy journey:  

  • What do you like most about your current role?
  • What do you like the least about your current role?
  • What frequent challenges do you experience in your role or in your team?
  • Do you feel your work is valued by your manager?
  • Do you feel your work contributes value to your organization?
  • Do you feel appreciated?  
  • How is this current role contributing to your career growth?

Answering these questions could reveal areas in your role that you’re very happy with, but also areas that may need more attention. Communicating your needs to your manager can be a daunting task, but there are strategies you can use to help advocate for yourself:

1. Know your value: Recognize what you bring to the table. Reflect on your skills, achievements, and the unique perspective you offer. This isn’t about boasting but about understanding your worth so you can articulate it confidently to others.  

Tip: Tie your accomplishments and the work you do to your organization’s goals and how your work is directly contributing to the company’s success.

2. Communicate clearly and constructively: Whether it’s asking for feedback, voicing concerns, or sharing ideas, the way you communicate can make all the difference. Aim for clarity, be open to dialogue, and always approach conversations with a constructive mindset. Remember, it’s not just what you say, but how you say it.

3. Set and share your goals: Know where you want to go in your career and don’t keep it a secret. Share your aspirations with your manager and seek their guidance on how to get there. This shows initiative and helps align your growth with the company’s goals.

Tip: It doesn’t always have to be your direct manager who guides you through your career growth. If there’s someone else on your team or organization that you want to learn from, or a mentor that could help guide you, make sure to communicate that.

4. Seek feedback—and act on It: Feedback is a gift, even when it’s tough to hear. Regularly seek out constructive feedback and use it as a roadmap for your personal and professional development. Showing that you can listen, learn, and adapt is a powerful form of self-advocacy.

Tip: Ensure you understand what your manager expects from you in your role, and if you don’t know what the expectations are, have a conversation about it so you and your manager are aligned.

5. Build your network: Advocacy is as much about relationships as it is about actions. Cultivate a network of mentors, peers, and advocates within your organization, and outside your organization, who can support you, offer advice, and champion your cause alongside you.

6. Celebrate your wins: Don’t be shy about sharing your successes. Celebrating your achievements isn’t bragging; it’s an important part of making your contributions visible and reinforcing your value to the team.

7. Ask and negotiate for what you need: Whether it’s a raise, resources for a project, or more flexible working conditions, don’t be afraid to ask for what you need to be successful. Prepare your case, anticipate questions, and remember that negotiation is a conversation, not a confrontation.

8. Embrace learning and development opportunities: Actively seek out and engage in learning opportunities, whether they are formal training programs, workshops, or online courses related to your field. Showing a commitment to your own growth not only enhances your skills but also demonstrates your initiative and drive to your managers. Don't hesitate to share your learning goals with your supervisor and discuss how they align with the organization's objectives.

9. Document your achievements: Keep a detailed record of your accomplishments, positive feedback from colleagues or clients, and any quantifiable results you've achieved. This documentation can be invaluable during performance reviews, salary negotiations, or when advocating for a promotion. It provides concrete evidence of your contributions and the value you bring to the team and the organization.

10. Advocate for others: While self-advocacy is crucial, advocating for your colleagues is just as important. Recognizing the achievements of others, offering support during challenging times, or championing their ideas and contributions can strengthen your relationships and build a network of mutual support.  

Being an advocate for yourself in the workplace isn’t about being the loudest voice in the room; it’s about being the clearest. Make sure your career path is not left to chance but is something you actively shape with intention, confidence, and a sense of partnership with your colleagues and managers.  

The journey to effective self-advocacy is ongoing. It’s filled with learning, adapting, and growing – embrace it with an open mind and doors will open. Incorporating these strategies can further empower you to effectively advocate for yourself and contribute to a positive, engaging, and supportive workplace.

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About Kudos

Kudos is an employee engagement, culture, and analytics platform, that harnesses the power of peer-to-peer recognition, values reinforcement, and open communication to help organizations boost employee engagement, reduce turnover, improve culture, and drive productivity and performance. Kudos uses unique proprietary methodologies to deliver essential people analytics on culture, performance, equity, and inclusion, providing organizations with deep insights and a clear understanding of their workforce.

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