Super Bowl Fever: More than 17m may call in sick

LA Rams fans Katelyn (left) and Nancy Delgado show their team-themed donuts on Friday, ahead of today's Super Bowl final.
LA Rams fans Katelyn (left) and Nancy Delgado show their team-themed donuts on Friday, ahead of today's Super Bowl final.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

ATLANTA • Call it the Super Bowl Fever or the Super Sick Monday.

More than 100 million people are expected to tune in to the Super Bowl, noshing on too much food, drinking too much beer, and staying up too late to see the advertisements that run in the fourth quarter. Tomorrow, more than 17 million of them plan to stay home from work.

This is according to a United States survey commissioned by The Workforce Institute at Kronos, a software company that helps companies with human resources management. If it comes to pass, the 17.2 million absences will eclipse the 2018 or 2016 estimates.

Whether companies will really turn into ghost towns the morning after the New England Patriots-Los Angeles Rams clash, there are signs of a real productivity hit.

"I'm a former corporate recruiter... there were always more notable absences," said Vicki Salemi, the careers expert at job site Monster.com, which also ran a recent small survey of hiring managers, recruiters and job seekers and found that 12 per cent would call in sick.

The cost of productivity loss could top US$4 billion (S$5.4 billion), according to an estimate by the outplacement and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. That includes time people spend discussing Tom Brady's performance on the field, combined with those who do choose to stay home from work.

Such surveys are not always nationally representative though, and are commissioned by companies that sell staffing services or HR software products - but still provide a little snapshot of the Monday-after effect of the big game.

They say a strong economy could be making it worse.

Said Joyce Maroney, executive director of The Workforce Institute at Kronos: "Employees may be feeling more secure in their employment and are more likely to have other options, and think it isn't going to be a deal breaker if they call in sick."

Interestingly, its survey also found senior managers were more likely (36 per cent) to say they would not work normal hours, compared to just 20 per cent of more junior and mid-level employees.

"That says something about trust, and who's empowered to do what in the workplace," Maroney said.

Also, more bosses have a sense of humour about the topic than one might think, with nearly two-thirds (62 per cent) in its study thinking it is funny when colleagues call out sick the day after the big game.

Shawn Anderson, who runs a nearly 50-person tech firm called PDQ.com in Salt Lake City, has had to say something to employees who tried to make the most of the four-day work week schedule he offers.

"Usually before a long weekend, I'll say, 'Go have a blast but please watch out for vodka virus or the Super Bowl bug or the Budweiser flu," he said, noting he might mention it lightly again. "There's a lot of sarcasm and joking in this."

WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 03, 2019, with the headline 'Super Bowl Fever: More than 17m may call in sick'. Print Edition | Subscribe