People have been talking about “untapped potential” and “unrealized talent” for years. We’ve captured our recent favorites here.
People have been writing about “untapped potential” and “unrealized talent” for years. These are not new topics and there is no shortage of data on the missed opportunity and the effect undervaluing and not respecting our people has on company success and economic growth.
The Great Reckoning changed everything. It exposed employment practices as exploitative and entrapping. The job market pyramid scheme worked until people stopped joining – until employers were unable to recruit people to join. Jobs went unfilled. People chose to stay free (unemployed can only be used for people who want to be employed). The pyramid broke.
CEOs and Executive Teams are now forced to reckon with a two-sided labor problem – many people leaving and fewer people joining.
Any conversation on this topic tends to start with salaries. Fixing salaries is a triage strategy. At most, it will stabilize employment trends at your company short-term. But an unhealthy environment still exists as a chronic condition and addressing it starts by creating a space where (1) your employees do their best work and (2) your employees feel valued and appreciated for doing their best work. Both are required for a healthy work environment.
Here is a subset of the most insightful publications I’ve read that highlight the reservoir of unrealized talent and potential, the impact of that waste, and ways some companies thriving today have responded and gotten it right.
5 Signs you’re Valued at Work
by NBC News
The Secret of Thriving Companies? Human Magic.
by Hubert Joly, BestBuy CEO in Harvard Business Review
People First, Strategy Second
by Wharton Executive Education
The People-First Approach to Business Building
by McKinsey Insights
Motivating Employees is not About Carrots and Sticks
by Lisa Lai in Harvard Business Review
Do your Employees Feel Respected?
by Kristie Rogers in Harvard Business Review
Want Employees to be More Engaged? Stop Fixating on Productivity and Start Optimizing their Leisure Time.
by Adam Waytz, Northwestern University Professor, featured on Ted
Humanocracy: Creating Organizations as Amazing as the Humans Inside Them
by Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini in McKinsey Insights
Beneath the Surface: A Unified Approach to Realizing the Value of Untapped Talent
by The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) and Walmart
Watch and Listen
Why we Need to Treat our Employees as Thoughtfully as our Customers
by Diana Doslik, BCG Partner, featured on Ted
How Can we Actually Pay People Enough
by PayPal CEO Dan Schulman, featured on Ted Audio
This is What Makes Employees Happy at Work
by Michael C. Bush, CEO of Great Place to Work, featured on Ted
Culture First Podcast: Stories from a Journey of Building a Better World at Work
by Culture Amp
The past few years have seen record numbers of employees leaving jobs, sometimes without locking in something new. Additionally, companies are having to completely transform both how they operate and how they compensate their people to stem the tide.
A simple look at Gallup Employee Engagement data over the past 20 years coupled with emerging trends around employee dissatisfaction with their work because people are (a) doing work that can and should be automated and (b) doing work that doesn’t reflect their best abilities to contribute tells us that this reckoning was way overdue.
The Case Study
When the pandemic hit globally in March 2020, Boldr was a small BPO and PEO with one office in Manila, Philippines. We decided to prioritize (1a) team member health and safety and (1b) client health and success, even as 35% of our revenue disappeared almost overnight.
Operating with integrity and focusing on making our employees successful, helped transform our operating environment and our position in the eyes of the market. Which is why today, two years later, Boldr has 5x’d in team size, revenue, and geographic footprint, while also 8x’ing enterprise value. Today Boldr has become the largest B-Corp certified BPO and PEO in the world.
The two major commercial trends of the past 20 years have been (1) digital influence on marketing and advertising and (2) the rise of customer experience as the primary way to differentiate and win in the market. Both started out as innovations, often fighting an uphill battle against historical ways of doing business.
Companies that adopted both early and succeeded at both sustainably, thrived. Ultimately, both ended up breeding copycats and as a result, both shifted from ways to differentiate to requirements, setting a new baseline of competencies and expectations upon which businesses would have to build further. Employee Success is the next trend and frontier.
There’s an increasing volume of data highlighting the power of employees feeling more supported, more equipped, and more valued. On the upside, it’s undeniable that feeling valued leads to massive increases in productivity.
Separately and inversely, feeling undervalued leaves us at the doorstep of The Great Reckoning. The pandemic has taken what makes people feel valued to entirely new heights, however, as the backdrop and context for personal happiness has risen in prominence. It’s why Employee Success needs our greatest time and attention.
The Moment of Truth
The benefit to being on the early side of Employee Success as a business imperative is the ability to write the playbook. The best playbooks always start with a commitment to hearing, understanding and paying attention to the challenge and the opportunities it presents.
Next, the way forward is by exploring other disciplines that addressed similar types of concerns with other constituents (clients are obvious, but also, exploring how companies engaged with community members, suppliers, partners and investors can surface incredible ideas and opportunities)