The Boss Show

Workplace wisdom with heart and humor

November 26, 2012

Are You Ever Actually Off the Clock?

By Jim Hessler

When we’re at work, we’re clearly responsible to our employer for our actions. But what about after we leave work?

Recently, three suburban policemen went to a neighboring city and, well, misbehaved so badly at a professional football game that security in the stadium had to kick them out of the stadium.

At one point, the first city police officer on the scene had to call for backup. The suburban policemen then decided to compound their idiocy by showing their badges and suggesting that the city officer might not be treated well on their next trip through the suburbs.

Police officers, with their special responsibility to hold public trust, are arguably a special case. But what if they were instead accountants or database managers or — God forbid — human resource managers at your company? And what if they were wearing your company’s logo on their jackets, or they loudly communicated the name of their employer while they were drunk and disorderly?

Some who are vigorous defenders of privacy feel generally that once you’re off the clock, your employer has no hold on you. I am conflicted. For me, the public nature of the actions matters.

If the policemen had stayed home and trashed their garage in a drunken rage, I don’t think their employer should care. But in a very public space, committing such juvenile and disruptive actions and then identifying yourself as a member of an organization harms that organization’s brand and reputation. I see that as a violation of trust with one’s employer. As their boss, I would care that they had made these poor choices and would want to know that they understood the potential harm to their business partners.

I live near the city in which these suburban policemen work to protect public safety. I feel a little less safe after hearing this story. I would be a little less likely to visit your place of business if your employees acted the fool in a public place.


Jim and co-host Steve Motenko discussed this and other matters on a recent episode of their on-demand radio program The Boss Show.  Please join the discussion by commenting on this blog, emailing, or by visiting us on Facebook —



About the Author

Jim Hessler bootstrapped his way from retail work into a successful career as salesman, sales manager, Fortune 500 executive, and corporate turnaround engineer. Along the way, he developed The Leadership Platform, a proven model for training managers to become sustainably better leaders. It became the basis of his leadership primer, Land On Your Feet, Not On Your Face: A Guild to Building Your Leadership Platform. Jim is the founder of Path Forward Leadership Development Services.

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