Why the Super Bowl's 'hangover Monday' is worse than usual this year

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By Martha C. White

You’re not getting much done today, are you?

The day following the Super Bowl is always a loser when it comes to office productivity, and experts say today probably is worse than usual. The power outage in the Superdome that led to a 34-minute delay pushed the game’s ending to nearly 11 p.m. Eastern Time Sunday, making for one groggy morning at the office Monday.

“Given that last night’s game was extended by the blackout, you could guess that people drank more and ate more junk food because the opportunity to do so was extended,” said Joyce Maroney, director of the Workforce Institute at work force consultants Kronos. “The later people stayed out, got home or went to bed, that’s only going to exacerbate people’s fatigue. If they did overindulge, the hangover effect is going to be higher.”

A 2008 survey commissioned by Kronos found that 4.4 million people  show up late to work the day after the Super Bowl, and 1.5 million call in sick.

Maroney said the number of people feigning illness today is probably higher. “There has been, generally speaking, a decline in employee engagement metrics in the workplace since the recession began.” When people care less about their jobs, they’re more likely to show up late or blow off the day entirely.

“If they were doing it right, they’d schedule a day of work off knowing they like to party, but a lot of people just call in that day,” said John Challenger, CEO of outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. That adds up to nearly $270 million in wages down the tubes, he estimated.

But even if you made it into work, don’t start patting yourself on the back yet. Challenger said people who are physically in the office but checked-out mentally are a bigger drain on offices.

“People are excited about the game. They’ve been betting on their squares, coming into to talk about what happened, going online and looking at the videos... It’s really a slowdown of work, particularly in the morning,” he said. This slacking off costs companies about twice as much as the absenteeism.

“It’s a shared national experience and I do think it’s another source of a productivity drain,” Mahoney said.

Social media exacerbates this. If we’re not gathered around a physical water cooler (or coffee machine, as the case may be) talking about the game or the commercials, we’re almost certainly wasting time Tweeting about it.

According to measurement and analytics firm SocialGuide, nearly half of all TV-related posts on Twitter are about sports, even though sports make up a tiny fraction of TV programming. During the game last night, more than 26 million Tweets were sent, and as of midday Monday, "Joe Flacco" and "Destiny's Child" were still trending topics.

Challenger said the biggest slowdowns Monday are likely to be in New Orleans, where the game was hosted, San Francisco, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. The number of workers reaching for that second cup of coffee or bottle of aspirin is probably highest in the Baltimore and D.C. areas, he said.

“People tend to celebrate harder than they cry in their beer.” Plus, even with the delay, the game still wrapped up a little before 8 p.m. Pacific Time, so Bay Area football fans still had time to get to bed at a decent hour.

Challenger and Maroney both said there isn’t very much a manager can do at this point, but that some pre-planning can mitigate the Monday morning slackerdom.

“I think it makes more sense for managers to work with employees to manage around this issue,” Maroney said. “It’s really important for organizations to create a climate where people can have these conversations in advance.”

Challenger said workplaces with a large number of young adult employees, who might be more likely to make Super Bowl Sunday a late night, could shift their schedule, letting people come in a couple hours later in exchange for staying later.

Josh Moore, owner and editor of fantasy football website 4for4.com, thinks we should just throw in the towel and admit we’re not getting any work done today. Last month, Moore started an online petition asking the White House to make the day after the Super Bowl a national holiday.

“Super Bowl Monday is already one of the least productive working days of the year,” he said via email. "Last night’s game delay only further exacerbated the issues... Later to bed, later to rise, more alcohol and food consumed, etc.”

If the petition gets 100,000 signatures, the White House has to at least consider his proposal. Moore has about three weeks to gather another roughly 85,000 signatures. “I have only heard from one or two individuals out of thousands I have spoken to who don't think the American people could use an additional day off in honor of one of our nation's most significant annual cultural events,” he said.

Giving Americans the day off, though, could negate the one workplace benefit managers get today, Mahoney said. All that socializing makes us happier. According to jobs site Glassdoor.com, 20 percent of people say morale is higher in the office the day after the Super Bowl. We can't get this kind of camaraderie watching post-game recaps in our bathrobes at home.

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