· 1 min read · Features

An untapped source of potential: the professionals who complain their work isn't challenging enough


Almost half of professional women and men around the world believe they are not sufficiently challenged by their employers, although they are confident about their skills and capabilities. Despite this situation, slightly less than half regularly ask their supervisor for new challenges. These are the findings of a recent survey conducted by Accenture of 3,600 professionals from around the world.

The research, Untapped Potential: Stretching Toward the Future, also found that professionals who view themselves as ‘very successful' are three times more likely to be in a job they describe as challenging. Similarly, women and men who feel ‘very successful' are much more likely to stretch themselves: more than half say they are learning new skills to prepare themselves for the next level.

Some, but not all, of these global results are mirrored in findings from the UK-specific findings contained in the study. For example, in the UK, 55 % of women and 47% of men believe they are insufficiently challenged in their roles. However, less than half of UK employees - 45% of women and 34% of men - say they regularly ask their supervisors for new challenges.  Correspondingly, while 43% of all survey participants say they are stretching beyond their comfort zones to do more, in the UK, 37% (47% women; 28% men) agree with that statement. 

All of this begs the question: in this environment, how should employees and employers address this untapped potential? The answer lies in a two-way effort. Businesses must provide opportunities that help employees live up to their potential, and employees must ask for new opportunities and stretching roles. In this win-win situation, employees can remain competitive by expanding and developing their skills, while by building the confidence and maximising the skills and expertise of every employee, businesses can become leaders.

Isabel Naidoo, UK Head of Corporate Citizenship at Accenture