Enthusiasm is the fuel that propels the economy. Since 2001, the Gallup institute unfortunately determines in its Engagement Index that over two-thirds of employees have a low emotional engagement to their company. About 15% have none at all. Only 15% have a high emotional engagement to their company. The supervisors have a great influence on it. Gallup estimates that bad bosses are annually responsible for economic costs between 80 and 100 billion euros due to employee resignation. Obviously, they do not manage to ignite the enthusiasm of the employees. It would take not more than an appropriate matchstick. The rough surface of everyday life is already available. The inflammatory transmission of fire makes the flame the ideal metaphor for enthusiasm.
Technically, it is clear what to do.
Before people are able to get excited, you have to attract their attention. Unusual and surprising connections awaken them from their everyday lethargy. Now they need a personal advantage and the opportunity to contribute. The fire sparks off when the employees are part of the planning, development and decision-making. As soon as the highly flammable components, the employees‘ need for appreciation and the appropriate attention of the bosses, rub against each other, a spark is ignited that jumps from one to another.
The power of enthusiasm is the tinder that leads into a self-reinforcing cycle – employees excite employees, who delight customers, who stimulate business that excite employees, etc. In order to use these self-reinforcing mechanisms, the employees need enough room, where they can meet autonomously, support each other and decide. It all starts with a small flame that is fed by flammable material in order to evolve into a big fire, until finally thick pieces of wood release the desired energy.
For a pleasant working day of the employees, they need meaningful and diverse activities, decision-making independence, a pleasant working atmosphere, an appropriate salary and security. In addition to the simple components of compensation, the executive behavior plays a major role – attention, respectful treatment and employee appreciation. These aspects have a similarly warming effect, like the illustrative fireplace where people have been gathering around from time immemorial.
At least, about 15% of the employees are fully committed. This may be the reason why, despite a tense mood, results are still generated for which customers are willing to pay. These successes captivate additional employees. This requires the appropriate role models that result from respectful treatment and executive appreciation. In order to illuminate the room with the fire, one should offer the employees a stage where they can shine.
It would be naive to forget that enthusiasm consumes step by step the resources of the employees. If they lack recovery time, i.e. no refueling with combustibles, they become at the end of the day a pile of ashes, where nothing flammable remains. This results in depersonalization (indifference, cynicism, distance), emotional exhaustion (irritability and impotence), and suffered failures (meaningfulness, perceived ineffectiveness) or, in one word, Burnout. Employees who burn brightly without new fuel are also at risk of burning out. That’s the price of the fire. It does not stop eating.
The results of the study show that about 15% of the employees have a high emotional attachment to their company. As long as the fire burns, the existing energy should be used to disseminate the enthusiasm in the company. The most important lever has the management level. The respectful interaction with employees has a significant impact on their well-being. Once the fire has completely disappeared, the only question left is whether the company has enough time to start all over again – or simply disappears.
Bottom line: The flame follows the same steps as the employees’ enthusiasm – starting with a fuze that ignites the fire; the tinder that flares up easily; the warmth that keeps you in a motivated state; the light that shows you the way; the refill that prevents everything from burning out; to the certainty that a fire eventually goes extinct, if you do not take care of it. These phases and the contagious nature of fire make the flame an ideal metaphor for enthusiasm.