SNOWMAGGEDON! And Super Bowl Sink Productivity


As Chicago braces for a winter storm that is expected to drop 18 inches of snow amid 40- mile-per-hour winds, companies across the region are scrambling to prepare for a massive hit to productivity.  The impact could stretch beyond Chicago, as business flights are cancelled and the storm moves eastward.  By week’s end, the National Weather Service estimates that 100 million people across the country will be affected by the storm.  In Illinois alone there are more than 5.5 million workers, including about 2.0 million in the Chicago metropolitan area.  In conversations with senior human resource executives, Challenger researchers learned that as early as Monday several employers were making contingency plans for possible office closures, including preparing workers for telecommuting, arranging early returns for out-of-town business travelers, and notifying customers and business partners of the possible disruption.  What can employers learn from recent weather events that hobbled New York and other cities recently?  What can employees and employers do to prepare for weather-related disruptions?  Will there be any lasting impact on the overall economy from weather-related disruptions to business?


Another potential productivity-sapping storm is approaching the nation’s employers.  This one is not weather-related, however.  It’s the potential loss of productivity resulting from an upcoming string of sporting events that distract workers year after year.  It starts this Sunday with the Super Bowl.  While the productivity experts at Challenger, Gray & Christmas do not foresee a significant drain in productivity leading up to the big game, there is the risk that the Monday following the game could see a conspicuous increase in unplanned absences as employees who partied a little too hard on Super Bowl Sunday fail to recover for work.  Another hit to productivity could come in March with the tip-off for the men’s college basketball national championship tournament (a.k.a., March Madness).  The tournament’s opening round begins during the workday on Thursday, March 17, and is conveniently broadcast over the internet for workers across the country to enjoy.  In April, golf fans (of which there are many in corporate America) can stream live coverage of the Master’s golf tournament on their work computers.  Is there anything companies can do minimize the impact of these sports-related productivity sappers?  How do various sporting events compare when it comes to the productivity-draining potential?  Are companies advised to ignore, embrace or squash the problem?


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