I was in Sydney last week and heading back to the airport in my hire car. The peak hour traffic was heavy but I’d planned out a reasonable amount of time to drop it off and check in.
So, I was under control and feeling good despite the rain. As I approached the airport I glanced at the fuel gauge and it was only just below full (I’d only done a few trips over the 3 days). “I should really fill it up before I drop it off to save paying the exorbitant fuel price the hire car companies charge.” I told myself.
Siri guided me in to the nearest petrol station which happened to be a couple of kilometres away. However traffic was getting heavier in both directions as I headed away from the airport. At this point I started to get my first stressful thought. My well planned trip now had an uncertain outcome.
The final 10 minutes back to the airport was full of pressure, stress and a few moments of horn tooting. I made it to check in with 2 minutes to spare and it took me quite some time to recover from being so anxious in that moment.
All for what? I paid $10 at the pump to fill up. That probably translates to about a $5 saving on what the hire car people would have charged extra. So there you have it!
Why on earth would I make a $5 decision that caused me so much stress and, ultimately, could have cost another $200 for a missed flight? I’m not completely sure on why (although some of you will quickly tell me it’s because I’m Scottish) but I reckon my desire to save the client money and do the right thing were big factors.
How many $5 decisions do we make? And how many times do we lose massively out of it even though acting with the best of intentions?
At an organisational level, those $5 decisions are far higher but it’s the same game. How many decisions are made to save money but end up causing a cost far greater than any saving we intended?
The fact is we may save on the bottom line…just like I did with my $10 of fuel. But at what cost? Productivity, safety, mental wellbeing, engagement, morale etc etc can all be impacted.
Ask yourself how many $5 decisions do you make for yourself or take on behalf of others? And then consider whether the intangible costs of those $5 decisions are worth it.