Unrealised potential is detrimental to engagement and business

1st March by Lee Robertson

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A new study from employer brand agency, Chatter Communications, has revealed that only one in ten people believe they have been encouraged to reach their full potential at work.

Organisations losing out on knowledge creation, innovation and commercial growth

The concerning statistic came to light in a survey of 2,000 employees of varying ages and levels of experience from across a wide range of business sectors and industries. The research had sought to find out whether workers feel appreciated, if their skills were being properly utilised and if they felt confident about what they were worth.

Disappointingly, only 10 per cent of workers (women at nine per cent and men at 12 per cent) believed they were encouraged to reach their full potential by their respective employers. Moreover, just 12 per cent of the respondents said they felt their talent at work was seen, appreciated and maximised, meaning 88 per cent were at risk of leaving their employers.

In addition, the data tells us that those beginning their working lives (aged 18 to 24) and those heading towards their retirement (65 and above), were most likely to feel that their talents were seen and appreciated by employers.

Lack of role models damaging employee aspirations

The top five roles where employees believed they were being encouraged to reach their potential were in: science/R&D, professional services, technology/data, customer service and managerial positions.

The lowest performing roles where workers did not feel empowered were in production, driving, healthcare, manual labour and office work.

The research also found that there was a lack of realistic role models within organisations. Only nine per cent of the respondents said they have had a strong mentor to help them develop professionally and 12 per cent stated that they had suitable role models to aspire to in their workplace.

The under 25 age group were found to be the most likely to report having both role models and mentors, but this figure dropped significantly for those in older age brackets.

Employees from the healthcare, professional services, marketing/media and customer service sectors were revealed to be most the most likely to feel like they had suitable role models to learn from.

Karen Smart, head of consultancy at the AoEC said: “This is a worrying snapshot of what is going on in some organisations. Employers need to listen, learn, engage and ultimately co-create here. If they are neglecting investing in their people and their capabilities, then they are risking success and profits by failing to harness skills, creativity and energy.”

She continues: “Employees hold the cards here if they have the skills which are in demand. They are becoming more selective about who they want to work for and choosing employers based on what learning and development opportunities are available to them. Workers want to learn and be the best they can be, so it is good business sense for employers to tap into the full potential of their workforce by offering them training, coaching or mentoring. Good development opportunities pay back with higher engagement, better retention, buy-in and greater productivity. Talent is more important than anything else and if we can get that right, employers and employees will thrive together.”