- Employees will be obsessing over the 2018 Winter Olympics at a cost of $1.7 billion in lost productivity, according to data from Captivate’s Office Pulse. Researchers polled 568 U.S. white-collar workers.
- Office Pulse data shows 56% of business professionals said they plan to watch this year's Winter Olympics, but only 7% (mostly Millennials) admit they'll secretly watch at work. Among the business professionals who plan to discuss the Olympics in the office, 41% are millennials, 27% are boomers and 24% are Gen Xers.
- A third (33%) of millennials said they found chatting about the games "morale-boosting," but over a third of boomers (38%) find it "distracting." North Korea was cited as the top story at the Olympics among 38% of business professionals, followed by the Russian athlete ban (15%), security (9%) and the National Hockey League's absence (6%).
Employers should expect some losses in productivity when workers are caught up in the fervor of national and international sporting events. The Olympics, like the Super Bowl and the Oscars, get employees talking about and rallying around a shared interest, which can absolutely be a cultural boost in the short-term.
The downside is that popular events can be a distraction leading to lost time on the job. In fact, so many people stay home the day after the Super Bowl that many HR managers want the day to be a national holiday. A one-day celebration might not be a burden for employers, but this year's Olympics is a 17-day event.
In an emailed statement to HR Dive, Seymour Adler, an organizational psychologist and partner in the talent and rewards sector at Aon, said employers should embrace the Olympic games for the positive impact they can have on the workplace. Adler believes hiring good workers and empowering them to make decisions means you have to trust them; if employees do take time off to watch the games, you should still expect them to do their job. The Olympics might also be good topic for team-building and brainstorming sessions.
"The Olympics are a major world event that bring together people from different backgrounds," Adler said. "Embrace and respect that."