- Workplace distraction over HBO's hit series "Game of Thrones" may cost employers $3.3 billion in lost productivity, when factoring the average hourly wage of $27.77, according to executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.
- "The cultural phenomenon that is Game of Thrones is another opportunity for employers to build camaraderie in the office. Bosses shouldn't try to stifle these discussions in the least," Challenger, Gray & Christmas VP Andrew Challenger said in a news release. "In fact, it's likely they are just as enthusiastically participating in them as their employees."
- The estimate showed other workplace distractions or downers and their cost in productivity losses, including: online holiday shopping ($35.4 billion), 2017/2018 flu season ($21.4 billion), Fantasy Football 2016 ($16.8 billion), March Madness 2019 ($13.3 billion), Super Bowl Monday 2019 ($4.4 billion) and the House Committee on Oversight and Reform's hearing with Michael Cohen ($3.8 billion).
Challenger advised employers to not totally ban employees from discussing "Game of Thrones" and other cultural phenomena at work; these gatherings can be opportunities for a cultural boost, whereby workers bond, share opinions and ideas, and engage in friendly sparring over their favorite character, player or team.
Employers should anticipate losing at least some measure of productivity when employees get caught up in the excitement and fervor of national and international events. The costs of employee down time are staggering, however; the 2018 Winter Olympics cost employers $1.7 billion in lost productivity, and just the first round of the 2017 March Madness tournament amounted to a $4 billion loss.
The losses in productivity alone may prompt employers to set some boundaries around the time and manner in which employees engage in these events at work. Sports activities sometimes involve betting, heated debates and long discussions that spill over far too much into what should be dedicated work time. HR can draft no-tolerance policies on betting, discussions that create antagonistic work environments and chatter or events that extend beyond a reasonable time during work hours.