Sunday, March 3, 2024

Workforce Institute at Kronos captures Game of Thrones impact on employee absenteeism

Jon Snow may be constantly working his way to occupy the Iron Throne, but the season finale of Game of Thrones this Sunday may have the opposite effect on the productivity of more than 27 million employees, according to a research project produced by the Workforce Institute at Kronos.

Based in Lowell, Mass., the Workforce Institute is a sort of virtual think tank that operates inside of Kronos, a maker of employee scheduling software and other tools aimed at HR decision-makers. The organization worked with Harris Poll to gather opinions from more than 1,000 U.S. professionals, the results of which were then extrapolated against U.S. Census data.

The study calculates, for example, that 10 million U.S. adults will either call in sick, use a personal day at the last minute or a vacation day on Monday so they can stay up to watch Game of Thrones, the popular HBO series that tells the story of a medieval fantasy epic. The research is being marketed as “the Absence is Coming survey from The Workforce Institute at Kronos” via blog posts and social media promotions.

Besides the more hard-hitting statistics — like the estimated 35.8 million employees who say they have spent at least one hour per week of company time this season talking about Game of Thrones — there are plenty of more lighthearted numbers. This includes the 28 per cent of respondents who said they would choose Jon Snow as their manager, followed by Tyrion Lannister, another character in the series, at 12 per cent.

Joyce Maroney, the Workforce Institute at Kronos’s executive director, said she hopes the research sparks a conversation within enterprises about the kinds of policies they should have about requesting time off or working remotely.

“Big cultural events — whether it’s major sporting event like Olympics or the Super Bowl, or a major entertainment event like this one — typically these will create a rise in absenteeism or people coming in late,” Maroney told B2B News Network. “People might say, ‘Gee, how important is that, really?’ But it is, especially is people don’t let their leaders know well enough in advance when they can take off work. It can lead to business issues like overtime and lost productivity.”

Besides providing some remote work options  (or the ability to more easily book off time remotely rather than having to physically come in to the office), Maroney suggested B2B firms also look at allowing employees to swap shifts (if they’re not a Game of Thrones fan, for example). “It’s about how you create an environment of trust,” she said.

Absenteeism isn’t the only issue that the Workforce Institute focuses on, Maroney added, citing work that touches on broader aspects of creating a more engaged employee experience. Studies like The Absence Is Coming survey, however, help stimulate discussions about scheduling and other practices, she said. Even in a world where so many workers can do their jobs via a smartphone or laptop, the cultural changes within the office take time, she said.

“The message here is not that employers always have to say yes (to absences),” she said. “The business needs to meet its objectives. We have a customer support function that operates 24/7. It would not be acceptable for wait times on the help desk to go from a minute and a half to 20 minutes because people were taking off for Game of Thrones.”


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Shane Schick
Shane Schick
Shane Schick is the Editor-in-Chief of B2B News Network. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and was the founding editor of Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.