Super Bowl a super burden?

Watercooler chatter about the big game could cost U.S. employers $800 million in lost productivity

This year’s Super Bowl — the championship game of the National Football League — could end up costing U.S. employers more than $800 million (all figures U.S.) in lost wages.

The reason: 10 minutes spent each day by football fans talking about the big game instead of working. Every 10 minutes of unproductive work chatting about the merits of the New England Patriots and the Carolina Panthers costs employers an average of $2.59 per worker, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., a global outplacement firm.

Spread the $2.59 over the 130 million Americans employed on non-farm payrolls, losses for every 10 minutes of wasted time grows to $337 million. Researchers at Challenger assumed that not every employee in the U.S. will spend 10 minutes talking about the game, but even if based solely on the estimated 52.8 million working Americans who will watch the game, the amount of lost productivity could exceed $136.9 million for every 10 minutes spent on game chatter.

In the five business days before the Super Bowl and on the Monday following the game — when watercooler chatter is likely to be at its peak — even if workers spend only 10 minutes each of those days talking about the game, employers will lose $821.4 million ($136.9 million multiplied by six days).

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