Freedom Has a Price

Everyone wants freedom to breath, be creative, trusted to perform their essential job duties and meet deliverables on time without harassment. Nobody wants to be micromanaged or tied to their desk all day. That’s understandable, that’s desirable and hell that’s what I want too.

But total freedom is unrealistic and here’s why. Often times you have coattail riders in the workplace. Coattail riders really don’t do much at work but talk, run errands and hide under the accomplishments of their teammates. They also use “freedom” as justification to basically slack off (that’s SLACK) all day. Been there, seen that. And depending on the relationship with the boss; related or having an affair with them, it can be almost impossible to get rid of them.

Total freedom at that workplace is a hot button issue right now. The line between work life balances is blurred by technology. People want to work from home. It’s the best of both worlds, you get the steady compensation and benefits of the corporate gig but the autonomy to complete task when you want without someone managing your time. Brilliant.

But as an HR professional we have to establish some sort of boundary or guideline because SOME people can’t handle too much freedom. Freedom, micromanagement and accountability are totally different things but can be correlated.

Some workers can be too immature to handle workplace freedom. Others are too entitled (that’s code for old, stubborn and stuck in their ways) to handle it. And you have others who are just not savvy or intelligent enough. They all just want to get along and collect a check. Be on the lookout for these workers because their lack of productivity blanketed under freedom could be costing you millions.

I did a little research for you; here is a breakdown of productivity costs.

Disengagement costs $300B annually. What’s disengagement, well basically it’s all the people that come to work and don’t care about the company, the product or their performance. They are a big reason why your company fails.

Media; social media, technology, for as much as it can save or earn it can also costs billions. News, internet, streaming video, breaking news, entertainment, porn, and sporting events drain productivity. For instance, last year’s Royal Wedding cost employers $10B. And that’s just in the U.K. (source).

And then there’s social media usage. This article suggests it costs companies $10 million annually but it’s from 2011 and I’m pretty sure it’s higher than that now because there are more sites and more devices and more users.

Health and wellness, overweight employees cost approximately $190 billion annually in healthcare premiums and smokers cost $196 billion (source). We all know weight and smoking are touchy subjects. Losing weight or stopping smoking is tough to do. It’s not about attractiveness it’s about health. There is something to be said about productivity and the relationship to good health.

The chances of you being in one of those categories is pretty close to 100%, okay 90% if that makes you feel better.

Some people in the workforce love to work, but more actually don’t. Those people love to get paid to do nothing, if jabbed you them with a pin, they’d bleed happiness. However, someone has to make sure work is being done and unfortunately human behavior dictates that more often than not a person will try to get away with something.

Last thing on this, there should be balance. You don’t have to ride your team like rented tall dogs to get them to perform. It takes time to develop and build trust which translates into freedom at work. When you micromanage your employees no matter how productive you may think they are, they will find ways to get their “freedom” from you.

So instead of micromanaging or passing out freedom, try accountability. Set the schedule for deliverables based on business needs, allow your team to work within their strengths and comforts with an understanding that sometimes they will be required to work under different time frames. If they can’t meet your expectations with too much supervision, freedom, management or trust, then it may not be the appropriate fit. So you can give them FREEDOM to work someplace else.

Photo Credit:

Victus Spiritus


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