Enthusiasm IS a Competitive Advantage

by Robert S. Tipton

Which is better? Employees that do “whatever it takes” related to customer service, quality, efficiency, etc., or employees that ensure they simply comply with the metrics in their performance plans?

Be careful how you answer that question.

It’s easy to say, “Oh — it’s obviously the former…” However, in my experience MOST (okay, nearly ALL) employers focus on the latter and not the former. What about you? A quick check of the means by which you train, develop, and measure and reward performance will tell you.

Enthusiasm IS a Competitive Advantage, © 2004, R S Tipton, Inc.
Our son, Spencer, several years ago — showing unbridled enthusiasm. I love this picture!

Are your employees measured and rewarded based upon their enthusiasm? Their passion? Their willingness to go the extra mile? Do your employees receive training and development in relationship skills, in creative problem solving, and in vulnerability and appropriate risk-taking? No? Not really? Hmmm. I thought so.

Okay — I’m showing my bias here. No doubt, enthusiastic employees are more fun to be around — and I find them much more open to change. But is there a measurable financial benefit?

WestJet, a Canadian airline, understands the value of enthusiastic, engaged employees — they are an enthusiastic, engaged employer! There’s a reason the video below has been watched more than 34 MILLION times, and there’s a reason WestJet experiences some of the highest employee engagement rates (85% as last reported) in the airline industry:

WestJet (and other enthusiastic, engaged employers like Zappos and Disney) are winning the battle in the open marketplace for the best and brightest employees. Not only are they keeping their own best and brightest, they’re becoming a destination for the best and brightest employees of their competitors.

What is that worth to you?

According to Dr. Kim Ruyle of Inventive Talent Consulting in his presentation to SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) in July of 2012, there are four costs associated with turnover: “1) Costs to off‐board employee, 2) Cost‐per‐hire for replacement, 3) Transition costs, including opportunity costs, and 4) Costs from long‐term disruption of talent pipeline.” He also states, “Turnover costs are often estimated to be 100% ‐ 300% of the base salary of replaced employee (150% commonly cited).”

150%. Wow.

Simple math says WE (as employers) should go the extra mile to limit voluntary turnover, right?

Okay — so you’re not WestJet — few are — but that shouldn’t stop you from aspiring to be more like them. Why? Thinking like Scrooge himself, if we take the “fun” factor out of a more engaged, enthusiastic environment (and these companies are FUN to be part of!), showing even the slightest increases in your company’s ability to drive up employee enthusiasm will translate into decreases in voluntary turnover. And — absenteeism will be lower and overall healthcare costs will be lower as well.

Fewer valuable employees leaving the building = better financial results. It’s that simple.

Finally — some wisdom from Bain and Company in their 2012 “The Chemistry of Enthusiasm” report. Because Karma sucks when you’ve been behaving badly. However, Karma is amazing when you’re an engaged, enthusiastic employer.

Bank on it.

“Engaged employees go the extra mile to deliver. Their enthusiasm rubs off on other employees and on customers. They provide better experiences for customers, approach the job with energy—which enhances productivity—and come up with creative product, process and service improvements. They remain with their employer for longer tenures, which reduces turnover and its related costs. In turn, they create passionate customers who buy more, stay longer and tell their friends—generating sustainable growth.”

“As a result, over seven years, companies with highly engaged workers grew revenues two and a half times as much as those with low engagement levels. And stocks of companies with a high-trust work environment outperformed market indexes by a factor of three from 1997 through 2011.” (© 2012, Bain and Company, The Chemistry of Enthusiasm)

For More On Transformational Change Leadership,
Please Check Out These Other Posts from Our Blog:

• 3 Steps to Eliminate Leadership Anxiety
• Want to Do Something New? Start As a Beginner!
• What ‘Wants To’ Happen for You Today?
• How You See the Future Changes Everything!
• Get a Renewed Attitude and Stop ‘Managing’ Change!
• 9 Stages of Transformational Change
• 5 Essential Behaviors of Transformational Change Leaders
• 7 Core Beliefs of Transformational Change Leaders

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