A few weeks ago I wrote about the podcast where a person that worked for the Church listed the top ten things he learned in his first year of employment. The one I wrote about was how employees must always spin things to make them positive. Another of the ten things that jumped out to me was the following: “Inefficiency can always be tolerated when there is no cost”. He said that there was incredible inefficiencies in the Church, but when you are dealing with an all volunteer workforce, you don’t care.

He talked about how hard it is to hold somebody accountable when they are just doing the job in their spare time with no compensation. I saw this first hand many times as Bishop. I would ask somebody to do something, but I couldn’t “make” them do it.

My dad was once in a bishopric many years ago. He would come home from bishopric meetings so frustrated. The bishop, who was a good friend of my father, had no administrative skills whatsoever. The most glaring example my father would give was at the beginning of each meeting, the bishop would have a stack of mail and stake paperwork that had arrived during the week. He would then open each envelope, read it out loud, then decide what to do with it. This took up much of the meeting time.

I often wondered how the local Church administration would change if the local leaders were paid from Salt Lake an hourly wage for the time they put in. The endless meetings would disappear in a minute. Most business would be handled by e-mail. Meetings would be limited in time, with only things that could not be handled by phone covered. The bathrooms would be cleaned by professionals! But, when the labor is free, none of this happens.

The missionary model, based on free labor, is massively inefficient. If the Church had to pay for this workforce, the cost of “customer acquisition” (to borrow a business term) would be unstainable. Most low producing missions would be closed.

What inefficiencies have you seen in the church that was the result of a volunteer workforce?

Are these to be expected in a volunteer organization?

Is there a way to mitigate these inefficiencies without having a employee/employer relationship?