What Does It Cost?

Days and weeks and months passed and the Dream Manager team grew and grew. When the company reached 625 employees early in the fourth year of the Dream Manager Initiative, Admiral hired its eighth and ninth Dream Managers.

At one of the team meetings, one of the new DMs, Brian, said, “I was out to dinner with a college friend and his wife over the weekend. He still works for the bank I was with before I came to Admiral, and he asked me straight out, 'How much does it cost?' I really didn't know the answer. Does anybody? I mean, do we know how much the Dream Manager Program costs?”

Simon smiled.

“What are you smiling at?” Brian asked.

“Greg asked me the same question when I first came to him with the idea, and it's the first question the companies I consult for ask me, too. Tell your friend he is asking the wrong question.”

“What's the right question?”

“In the beginning, I told Greg the right question was: How much will it save? But over time, that question evolved into: How much will it make? And now I think it's important to ask: How much will it cost if they don't implement the program? Because the truth is, we thought we knew the cost of turnover. Experts and consultants had told us it was anywhere between 25 percent and 100 percent of an employee's annual compensation. We knew it was more than that, but we didn't know how much more. Just last week, I read that research conducted by Bliss & Associates reveals the cost of turnover is at least 150 percent of an employee's base salary.”

Brian looked at Simon, starry-eyed.

“So, you go back and tell your friend that he's asking all the wrong questions. In fact, the real question isn't even: How much does the Dream Manager Initiative save in turnover costs? The real question is this: How much would you be willing to spend to create a highly efficient, cohesive, and enthusiastic team that cared about your business, if you knew that every dollar you spent would come back to you threefold or sixfold or tenfold?”

Brian smiled and Simon continued, “And one more thing — tell him if he wants to keep pumping you for information, he should hire you as a consultant or make a contribution to your favorite charity.”

The team loved being in the midst of this kind of energy.

“Listen up, people!” Simon continued, addressing the whole group now. “Over the next twenty years, there is going to be a war over labor and talent in this country. BusinessWeek reports that over the next ten years, 21 percent of top management and 24 percent of middle management positions across all functions, regions, and industries will become vacant. In the areas of unskilled labor, we all know that the statistics are much harsher and the shortages more drastic.”

These were ideas he should have been sharing with America's corporate leaders, but he was sitting around a conference room with some key employees of a janitorial company.

“Some of you will outgrow Admiral. That's okay. While you're here, keep your eyes and ears open and learn as much as you can about the Dream Manager Program, and when the time comes, take it somewhere that needs it. To think of Admiral as only a janitorial services company would be a mistake. We're in the business of helping people achieve their dreams; janitorial services is just the vehicle we use to provide that opportunity. Businesses are rarely what they appear to be, but make no mistake — dreams are the currency of the future.”

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