When employees rise to their potential, so do their organizations

The challenges of this era—new work environments, an unsettled workforce, sociopolitical conflict, and more—pose a conundrum for leaders who are trying to innovate, retain talent, improve customer experience, create the right culture, and, oh, by the way, sell products and services.

How can leaders build a dynamic organization that can be successful in today’s world?

Here’s a starting point: “You must think about your organization as a living, breathing entity that is capable of evolving and changing,” said HireRoad CEO Otto Berkes. “You are not just an organization structure. You are an organization full of intelligent and creative people.”

Leaders must get to the core of how their organization can get those intelligent, creative people to want to be part of something and build something together, Berkes said. “You want to get all your people to be part of a mission to rise to their potential so they can help the organization rise to its potential.”

In Berkes’ view, one of the keys to unlocking human potential is to create the right environment around employees. That can take the form of specific support or training, carving out time to do some self-learning, or exploring a new area inside the organization. Above all, employees grow when they’re given opportunities to take risks.

How do organizations recognize human potential?

According to research by the Brandon Hall Group, almost 90% of organizations believe it is important to understand the potential of employees, but only 6% say performance evaluations are accurate predictors of potential. Instead, here are the elements used most widely to understand potential:

  • Engagement
  • Leadership qualities
  • Motivation
  • Ability to build and maintain relationships
  • Aspirations for new experiences
  • Collaboration
  • Values alignment with the organization
  • Ability to learn quickly

Intriguingly, the percentage of workers who say they’re engaged in their jobs is high and rising. For 2020, The Conference Board reports that it was 56.9 percent, the highest in 20 years. They attribute this to companies’ willingness to address employee well-being “with compassion, flexibility, and support during the chaos of the pandemic and social unrest.”

What to do with potential when you spot it

At HireRoad, we believe that people are not interchangeable and that organizations succeed when every individual within them succeeds. We create software that helps organizations find people with the right skills for their roles and supports new hires to ensure they’re empowered for success and feel that “this company fits with me.”

To us, hiring is just the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship. As Berkes explains, “Companies want employees who help them, and individuals want to learn and grow. That mutual benefit builds the partnerships that drive engagement and results.”

And that’s why we recently set out to explore what job satisfaction looks like for individuals throughout the U.S., U.K., and Australia. We asked people to talk about the set of feelings and emotions with which they view their work (the classic definition of job satisfaction). And we asked them about the fit between them and their employers.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing what we learned on our LinkedIn and Twitter feeds. Follow along to hear from people who feel they have a cultural affinity to their workplace, connections to their teams and colleagues, and the skills and knowledge they need to excel in their jobs.

Rising to potential together

The vast majority of employees believe their company’s leadership is inclusive. The shift to hybrid work environments has focused attention on things like fostering loyalty, communicating the organization’s purpose, intentionally building relationships, and prioritizing the conditions that give people a sense of belonging.

Many experts on organizational psychology have reframed The Great Resignation as an opportunity for a reset, a chance to reimagine our workplaces and work lives. They point out that the “quit rate” as tracked by the Federal Reserve has been rising pretty steadily for more than a decade; the pandemic accelerated what was already happening.

And even the rise needs to be taken in context. In June 2021, for example, the total private quit rate across industries was 3%, according to PWC.

Finally, people may also be recognizing that work is merely one facet of their lives—albeit a very important one!—and that it’s perfectly acceptable to choose a career that allows for the pursuit of other interests.

Berkes is convinced that capitalizing on our expanding knowledge of employees’ engagement and motivation empowers leaders to build a dynamic organization—even during challenging times. “This is your opportunity to take a fresh look at how your organization runs and what it stands for so it can truly thrive,” he said. “Developing employees’ potential will increase your productivity and revenue and all the good things that come with it.”