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Employers Should Expect Productivity Lapses Post Super Bowl

  • Published
  • 9 February 2024
  • Category
  • General

An estimated 16.1 million U.S. employees plan to miss work on the day after the Super Bowl game, according to the results of a survey sponsored by the UKG Workforce Institute. In addition, an estimated 6.4 million employees expect to be late for work; slightly less anticipate being reprimanded for unreported absences.

This doesn’t account for Super Bowl fans who will be at work but not functioning at full capacity physically or mentally. (Being present but not fully functional due to illness, injury, fatigue, anxiety, depression and other conditions is referred to as presenteeism.) In addition, employees who don’t watch the Super Bowl or engage in related indulgences may be exposed to pressure to step up their game to cover for absent co-workers, increasing their risk for fatigue, errors and injury.

Everyone knows there are costs associated with work absences. They may not be as aware of the hidden costs associated with presenteeism and poor health. Presenteeism is associated with billions of dollars in productivity lapses; mistakes, accidents and injuries; low morale; and the spread of contagious illnesses by people who come to work sick. In 2022, Kaiser Permanente reported that productivity losses linked to absenteeism and presenteeism from chronic illnesses and injuries cost U.S. employers $2,945 per employee per year. According to an Integrated Benefits Institute study, poor health cost U.S. employers $575 billion in lost productivity in a single year.


More Super Bowl-Related Findings

The UKG Workforce Institute has been tracking Super Bowl-related absenteeism for nearly two decades. The 2024 online survey was conducted for UKG by the Harris Poll from Jan. 10-12. There were 1,192 employed adult survey respondents – a sample size believed to accurately represent the U.S. adult working population within +/- 3.3 percentage points. The responses indicate that among U.S. employees over 18 years old:

  • 28 percent predict they will be less productive than usual at work on Monday.
  • 14 percent plan to miss at least some work on Monday, including one out of five staff managers.
  • 2 million employees are “not sure” whether they’ll miss work; 6.4 million employees will decide at the last minute what to do.
  • About 10 million employees have already requested the day off, which helps their managers and companies better prepare for game-related absences.
  • For those scheduled to work on Sunday, about 3.2 million employes plan to call in sick or just not show up for work so they can watch the game.


Recommendations for Employers

Jarik Conrad, vice president of human insights at the UKG Workforce Institute, said the findings suggest a need for organizations to close critical gaps in communication, transparency and trust between leaders, managers and front-line employees. “Trust is the new currency at work, and it pays dividends. We all have lives outside of the workplace, even managers. We need to focus on being more open with one another, communicating our distinct needs and wants, so we know how to best support our teammates and achieve our goals together,” he said in a related press release.

WorkCare advises employers to be prepared to manage potential post-game emotional letdown and physical complaints such as headache, tiredness, dry eyes, dehydration and poor concentration. In some cases, it may be more productive to give employees freedom to debrief without repercussions rather than expecting them to pretend to be working while discussing game highlights. Reflecting on aspects such as memorable plays and favorite commercials can help shift perspectives in a positive direction for those whose team did not prevail or who lost a wager.

Having fresh water, sports drinks to restore electrolytes and healthy snacks on hand at the workplace can help alleviate post-game complaints. It’s advisable to avoid caffeinated drinks because they have a dehydrating effect. Over-the-counter pain relievers taken at non-prescription strength may be recommended to relieve discomfort. All employees should be encouraged to take micro-breaks, stay hydrated, move around and stretch to stimulate their brain and relieve tension in their body.

In general, employers are encouraged to support employees in their personal health journey by providing health education and wellness programs to help them effectively manage stress, control their weight, and prevent and manage chronic conditions such as hypertension and diabetes. It’s also important to remember to be sensitive to preferences. The Super Bowl is a big deal to many Americans, but that doesn’t mean everyone in a workplace is a football fan.

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