Last week Captivate released a study similar to the kind that come out in advance of every Super Bowl as well as during March Madness, around the time of events like a solar eclipse and so on. The company predicted the number of people who would be calling in sick or who would be dragging a bit the Monday after the Big Game and pegged the lost productivity due to that sluggishness or absenteeism at around $484 million.

That seems like a big number. The implication behind it is that those employees are essentially stealing from their employers, denying businesses of almost $500 million in work that’s rightfully theirs.

Fair enough. The day after the Super Bowl isn’t a national holiday and is a normal work day that people are expected to show up to ready and willing to do their jobs. But the impact on productivity of a day where many people are operating at suboptimal levels is nothing compared to how many self-inflicted wounds businesses have subjected themselves to.

Consider these points:

  • A 2018 study by by workplace technology company Samanage identified $1.8 trillion in lost productivity due to outdated tech solutions still being in place. That works out to $4.9 billion dollars a day across the entire economy.
  • Gallup in 2013 reported poor management and other issues resulting in unhappy or disgruntled employees shaved off about $500 billion in productivity, or about $1.4 billion a day.

Put those two issues – just those two, without additionally considering how sexism, microaggressions toward minorities, office temperature and other factors also have an impact – and it comes to $6.3 billion *a day.* So that $500 million lost due to people being a bit hungover or with sick stomachs from eating some sketchy queso is just 7 percent of the productivity unrealized by not offering workers more efficient equipment or doing anything to make sure they are relatively happy in their jobs and working environment.

It’s another example of how much of the conversation around productivity seems designed to place the guilt for stealing from corporate employers on the workers as individuals. They, in the numbers about how much they’re not working after the Super Bowl, are being shamed into getting their act together and stop being so self-indulgent.

Again, the day after the Super Bowl isn’t a day off where no one is expected to come into the office and there’s no requirement to get work done. That’s just reality. But the economic impact of a few people playing hooky or not getting everything on their list of assignments done pales in comparison to how much is being lost because management isn’t trained to effectively motivate and energize their staff or because the company has decided stock buybacks are more important than upgrading equipment.

Let’s stop covering how much productivity is lost following the Super Bowl or other cultural event. At the very least, if we’re going to mention that let’s put it in the context of what else is causing shortfalls in productivity and who’s responsible.

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