Closing the Gap: Correlating Employee Passion and Potential


Article by Ed King

Confucius said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” 

While the sentiment might still apply to a few people who followed their childhood dream to become an astronaut or a professional athlete, most of us do work for a living. Unless you were fortunate enough to stumble upon a job opening for a work-for-hire puppy snuggler or professional beer taster (yes, those roles actually exist), a more likely title for us mere mortals would be electrical system engineering project manager, level 2

Does that leave the majority of today’s workforce to toil away at jobs they hate? Not at all. We just need a modern definition of tapping into one’s passions at work. 

Mike Rowe (of Dirty Jobs and Deadliest Catch reality TV fame) said recently, “You don’t need to follow your passion, but you do need to bring it with you.” Short of comparing Mike Rowe with Confucius, I do believe Mike’s perspective on work is much more appropriate and, in some ways, less daunting. Following your passion and infusing passion in your work are very different things.

We all want happy, productive, profit-producing people on our teams. But how do we know if our people are properly motivated to bring passion to their work? 

Many lament a lackadaisical generation that doesn’t want to work. I don’t believe that’s true. I do, however, believe in many cases employees are choosing not to bring their full suite of skills, strengths, and passions to work. 

Gallup Research reports that organizations typically use less than 20% of their employees’ potential. That means, by ignoring the employee ‘whole self,’ organizations are routinely missing out on 80% of employee potential. 

Another study found 87% of respondents report having and pursuing a passion in life, but only 25% report discovering their passion through their work, according to Deloitte.  

Corporate America has a long way to go when it comes to motivating employees. But what if there was a way to measure and close this passion gap? To leverage a quantifiable metric to inform ways to tap into your peoples’ latent passions hiding just beneath the surface? 

Most companies hire for talent. Of course, that’s a necessary component. But talent alone paints an incomplete picture. Combine talent with motivation, however, and suddenly you’ve amplified an employee’s productivity to an entirely new level. It all starts with activating passion at work. Employees want reasons to bring their whole selves to work every day.

Conceptually, it makes sense. But how do we measure and quantify something so abstract? KWI’s GAP Index is a unique 64-question assessment designed to codify, identify and amplify peoples’ passion at work. We help clients understand employees’ level of Commitment, Contentment and Capability – three components we know to be crucial to activating individuals, teams, and cultures to reach their potential. 

By infusing employees’ passion into their every day, leaders can close the gap between current performance and untapped potential. 

Want to learn more about our GAP Index and how the correlation between passion and potential can drive results for your team? Connect with our team. We’d love to have a conversation about how we can help.



Ed King is Head of Insights at KWI Communications. His lifelong passion of uncovering why people behave the way they do drives him to help organizations get the most out of their workforces. Connect with Ed on LinkedIn to continue the conversation.