Bridging The Gap: How to Unlock Untapped Potential in the Workplace

Your best team already works for you, you just don’t know it yet.

Emily Grace Peck

When thinking about my career journey, one image always pops into my mind: a white, vanilla sheet cake.

I think about cutting into that cake with my coworkers surrounding me and congratulating me either on my next career opportunity or even my retirement and I wonder if would I feel proud of how I spent my time there. Did my actions and decisions really have any impact?

Tim Clark discusses a similar experience in his book, “Employee Engagement Mindset”. On your last day of work, you say your goodbyes, gather your things and head over to the HR office for your exit interview. But the interview only has one question: What did you value the most during your time working at this organization?

As the workforce changes to include both Gen X and Baby Boomers and a rise in the gig economy, we should be modifying how we manage our human resources. People are in search of greater purpose in life and the needs of the workforce have shifted.

Considering how much has changed and the rate at which change continues to occur, why are we putting the same methods on repeat when there is an unacceptable return on investment? There is misalignment between where employers are investing and what employees are giving to their work. It’s high time that we take a pause and rethink our entire approach towards employee engagement and human motivation at work.

But starting something new can be daunting. What if it doesn’t work? What does another approach even look like? At Jalapeño, we are data-driven and we have the data to tell us how and why certain engagement methods are more effective than others and how you can help employees and businesses thrive.

Over the next couple of articles, I’ll be looking at how we can bridge the gap between research and practice. Why the practical solutions that have been developed are still not breaking through the academic barrier and actually being implemented in the workplace.

Why Should You Care About Employee Engagement?

Disengaged employees cost the US economy up to $500 billion per year due to lost productivity. Gallup reports that disengaged employee costs an organization approximately $3,400 for every $10,000 in annual salary. Bersin & Associates came out with a new report that states, “organizations currently invest approximately $720 million annually in engagement improvement… [programs].”

On average, a person will waste over 30 years of their lives in workplaces where they don’t have a sense of purpose and don’t reach their full potential. When we feel unfulfilled by the work we do, we don’t feel accountable. We don’t do our best or go above and beyond. We feel lonely. This affects our physical and psychological well being to the point that the risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and addictions significantly increase. Essentially, we are literally working ourselves to death.

We are all in pursuit of our own goals and to achieve greatness. But there are opportunities that by putting employees first, an organization can unlock undiscovered advantages that are already within existing resources that have the potential to improve one or all three of your bottom lines.

So when that moment comes to cut into that vanilla sheet cake, you won’t have to wonder if your actions and decisions had any impact on your workplace. You’ll know. Because you’ll be sharing and eating your cake with the valued people you’ve engaged.

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Emily Grace Peck is the Senior Writer at Jalapeño Employee Engagement in Vancouver, BC, Canada. She has a BFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia and a Masters of Management from the Sauder School of Business.

Jalapeño is bringing their vision of a better workplace to life by pairing their diagnostic platform with full service consulting to foundationally transform employee retention, productivity and engagement. Learn more here.