Developing Human Potential in the Workplace

Human potential refers to the capacity of individuals to improve themselves through studying, training, and constant practice to reach the limit of their ability to develop their skills and aptitude. Earlier the perception of potential was based on the theories of it being innate to a person. However, the recent perception has changed to a more inclusive approach that considers a lot of factors- physical, mental, social to name a few.

An inclusive approach also means a complex approach to take since it considers a lot of factors. The complexities are only increased when seen from the perspective of all of the parties involved. There is a talent that wants value. Some stakeholders want growth, this also includes short-term investors who want profits. A business or an organization as a whole wants growth and the necessary means and atmosphere to thrive. 

Amidst all of this, increasing human potential at the workplace is not easy. It has its own set of challenges. It is slow and gradual and can sometimes come to stagnate. The pandemic has also led to many changes in the dynamics of work. Hence, human potential can also be maximized by responding to these changes and incorporating them into the larger picture of inclusivity.

Why do we need to develop human potential in the workplace?

Human potential is a significant internal resource for any organization. Investing in developing human potential has its own set of benefits. With the changing nature of work, it has become significant to shift the focus of utilization of the resources and human potential is required more than ever before.

Organizations are under immense pressure to deliver satisfactory results to not just one but many parties. Talent needs recognition, value, and appreciation to grow and sustain itself. Investors need returns. Stakeholders need growth and customers need more value out of the products. In such a case the Organization often has to think from multiple perspectives to reach a solution that works for all the parties involved. 

Surviving in such an upright and tough environment would require differentiation and deep relationships. Human capabilities such as curiosity, empathy, imagination, creativity, and courage when applied to the workplace across departments and teams by every single employee would be the key to fostering new relationships, adding and sustaining value to the organization, and bringing the necessary differentiation required.

Other benefits of developing human potential are that it benefits the employees by enhancing their capabilities by challenging their limits. It adds value for customers and ensures return and growth for the stakeholders and short-term investors alike. It provides an opportunity for an organization to grow its talent where most organizations are failing to find the right or the suitable talent. 

Challenges in developing human potential

Despite being a significant asset, human potential is difficult to grow. It can take a considerable amount of time and effort. It can see stagnancy due to the lack of innovative ideas. A lack of motivation could be a hindrance in the development of human potential. This can be resolved by taking an approach- psychological, economic, and legal- that benefits the employees. 

Building on the creativity and the competence of the employees is important too. It enables them to come up with innovative ideas and better execution techniques, which adds a higher value to the organization. However, the organization needs to ensure that this human potential is being maintained.

In the case of investing the money and not getting the desired returns, the problem could be not using the human resource management tools entirely or using them wrongly. Creating a safe space for employees to unlock their full human potential with the guidance and supervision to manage the said potential is another challenge an organization can face. 

How can we develop human potential in the workplace?

The performance of a business or an organization depends a lot on the leadership and the ability of a team to tap into the human potential which is present in the talents, energy, and approach of every single team member. Every person is unique and has shortcomings. Some may lack the necessary interpersonal skills required for the organization to thrive, others can show a lack of integrity or respect which hampers their ability to work as an effective member of the team. So, unless your team members choose to behave in a way that enables the success of the team, their talents add little value to the team. 

Developing talent is essential for any organization. It can be achieved through fostering a learning culture and growing your talent. Hiring outsiders can be effective in the short run, but this approach lets you develop your leaders internally with your company’s thorough understanding- of its strategies, aims and any other foundational value you need

Leaders enabling their teams can be another way to increase human potential in your organization. 

Every leader should know what the team needs for the short run or the long run or the current goal and which values would best to take a team forward. Also, energizing the team by creating a compelling vision, inspiring ambition, building good relationships, and empowering the team members can go a long way.

The impact of COVID on businesses and the need for human potential development

As the Pandemic COVID 19 hit the businesses across the economies in the whole world alike, many enterprises saw a lot of drastic changes to deal with all of a sudden. The status quo was shattered to its roots and the businesses had to be lifted from a new bottom. Under such circumstances development of human potential which has been gaining ground since before the crises, saw unprecedented changes. 

One major change was to sustain the human resource amidst the crisis. With entire economies under lockdown, businesses were at a low, and with that came the added responsibility of being sensitive to the employees with whatever little they had. On the one hand, the growth was slow, on the other, there were expenses to be met. This crisis had to be navigated through to reach a better understanding between employees and the organization.

However, since the change was drastic and multidimensional, it came with its fair share of opportunities. The transition to a completely new online mode (not that it did not exist before, but the dependence increased for everything as work from home became a new reality), gave a chance to work on the new strategies for human potential development. It became necessary to incorporate the change and work towards finding new ways in which the human potential could be developed, especially considering the social disparity between the employees which would now need to be accounted for to get a better work-life balance. 

Other important aspects which now needed to be addressed were psychological aspects as the mental health was being affected very much and the employees were not at their best- neither energized nor motivated. Changes related to the new technological innovation and involvement too required to be addressed. Not everyone was on the same page in terms of either knowledge or resources. 

The adoption rate of Companies

Human potential development has gained acceptance in both academic and commercial circles since the mid-1980s. In 1994 it was claimed that in the past, companies with capital succeeded, at present, companies that add value succeed but in the future companies with the caliber of people in the organization would succeed. This has emerged as a reality in today’s world.

Most of the companies are working towards a better understanding of the human potential and are investing considerably in research and development. Skill enhancement drives and workshops are being organized by the companies. A safe space for employees to inculcate their abilities and improve is being developed and is emphasized. The organizations are also adopting and shifting to a more inclusive approach based on the needs of the employees and are creating an atmosphere of empathy and trust. 

Many organizations seem inclined to take an employee-sensitive approach and it is becoming essential as well. In an environment where the pressure is immense to deliver value and appreciate talent, it is only advisable to shift the perspective with changing times. There seems to have been a trend in business of more and more organizations realizing and assessing the value of human potential and are acting accordingly in investing in the growth of this repository of resources which may or may not give returns in the short run, but is very promising when it comes to the long run


Human potential is the greatest asset of any organization. Employees can improve themselves to reach the limit of their ability. The conventional approach towards human potential had been a narrow and reserved one where it was believed that human potential is innate. The recent change in perspective has made it more inclusive and sensitive to social, economical, psychological disparities. However, it has its fair share of benefits and challenges. 

It could be a good way to ensure inculcating those values which are wanted by the company. It can also ensure building better relationships which bring much-needed differentiation. Apart from that, it can ensure benefitting everybody by improving the employees’ skills and abilities, ensuring returns to the stakeholders and investors, and delivering value to the customers. 

The challenges to developing human potential at the workplace are multifaceted. Businesses are under immense pressure from all ends. Talent needs value and appreciation. Investors need returns and customers need value. Creating a safe space for employees to unlock their potential is another challenge. Keeping the team energized and motivated and ensuring that the potential is being maintained are other challenges faced by the companies.

There are a lot of ways in which human potential can be developed. Some of these include creating a learning culture, enabling the team through many ways. These include creating a vision, fostering better relationships, inspiring ambition, and motivating the team. It can also be developed by growing your talent based on the values you choose for your company. 

Creating a non-judgmental, accepting environment where the employees are allowed to unlock their full potential. This can be hampered sometimes when the organizations don’t see the desired results immediately and revert to the older ways which do not provide a space for the employees to put their abilities to use.

The sudden drastic changes due to the pandemic were many as well. On the one hand, it was an opportunity to create new strategies of human potential development, on the other it came with its fair share of challenges and responsibilities. It was a real test for the organizations to be sensitive to their employee’s needs while they still were not thriving- were struggling to stay in the competition. Add to that the new technological changes required accommodation since not everyone is on the same page. The social disparity and psychological condition of the employees were also crucial.

Human potential development has found a space in academic and commercial circles since the mid-1980s. Companies these days are aware of its benefits and are investing in research and development. More and more organizations are realizing the repository of resources which is human potential. There has been a trend of shifting to employee-centric policies with the status quo being challenged and shattered to the core. A future based on human potential seems like the new work culture amidst all of the changing paradigms of work, workplace, and work culture. It creates an atmosphere of empathy and trust. This new way which has emerged recently is going to be a way forward.  

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Also Read: Organizational Culture Inventory

Also Read: Organizational Culture Inventory

Also Read: Organizational Culture Inventory

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