Super Bowl Spurs Annual Absence

Sporting events may be driving workplace absenteeism up, but here are strategies to minimize the damage.
By: | February 1, 2019 • 2 min read
absenteeism

With Super Bowl LIII right around the corner and March Madness looming on the horizon, it’s a good time to remind HR leaders that employee absenteeism around major sports events is not only a potential productivity drain, it’s also on the upswing.

According to new research from staffing firm OfficeTeam, a Robert Half company, 54 percent of professionals surveyed know someone who has taken a sick day or created an excuse for skipping work following a big event—up from 41 percent three years ago.

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In a different survey, 42 percent of senior managers identified absenteeism the day after a major sporting event as the most distracting or annoying employee behavior when it comes to sports – a 20-point jump from a similar survey in 2017.

“It’s easy to get drawn into the excitement of major sports events,” says Stephanie Naznitsky, executive director of OfficeTeam. “Employees can do their part to keep it business as usual by giving advance notice if they want to take a day off, keeping game discussions to a minimum, and following company guidelines for things like breaks and fan gear.”

Naznitsky adds that managers may cut their workers some slack leading up to and after a popular event by offering schedule flexibility or organizing group activities to celebrate.

“It’s also a good idea to contact a staffing firm to help cover employee absences,” she says.

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Naznitsky offers some tips on how to manage worker absences and productivity during popular events, including:

  • Make sure there’s a system in place for employees to request time off during popular time frames.
  • If employees plan to be absent around events like the Super Bowl, ask them to submit requests as far in advance as possible so you can manage workloads.
  • For smaller teams, days off can be put on a central calendar to ensure everyone isn’t out at the same time. It may be best to divide the work of a staff member who’s out among several employees rather than spreading one person too thin.
  • Managers also can consider bringing in interim professionals for planned or last-minute absences to ensure tasks get done and deadlines remain on target.

Finally, there is the inevitable post-game hangover, especially for employers who are located in regions (southern California and New England) directly affected by the outcome of this year’s big game. Just ask employers in the Philadelphia region after Super Bowl LII.

“It can be fun to celebrate big games in the workplace, but make sure these activities aren’t detracting from day-to-day responsibilities and don’t violate company policies or state or federal laws,” Naznitsky says.

Tom Starner is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia who has been covering the human resource space and all of its component processes for over two decades. He can be reached at [email protected]