Many workers believe that the day after Super Bowl Sunday should be a national holiday and a day off from work. In the past, an estimated 16.1 million Americans missed work the day after the Super Bowl, with 8 million scheduling the day off in advance. If future Super Bowls are similar, millions of employees will be unexpectedly absent from work the next day, creating serious problems for managers.
Generally, 1 in 10 workers are expected to miss the workday immediately following Super Bowl Sunday, according to a study commissioned by The Workforce Institute at UKG. Young workers are especially likely to take the day off: An estimated 20 percent of employees ages 18 to 34 miss work after the NFL’s championship game.
Even those with authority are often truant after the Super Bowl. An estimated 35 percent of people who identify as a manager or boss with the authority to approve time off say they’ve missed work the day after the big game.
The factors workers typically give as reasons they miss the following workday include fatigue, nausea and hangovers. According to the study by The Workforce Institute at UKG, about 40 percent of those surveyed said tiredness from staying up late watching the game was the main reason they called in sick. Additionally, 34 percent of those ages 21 and over stated that drinking too much was a key factor in their unplanned absence.
It’s much the same story each year. In 2020, an estimated 17.5 million employees missed work that Monday, causing employers to lose an estimated $4 billion due to decreased productivity, according to the Workforce Institute study. This record absenteeism may have restarted a perennial argument that the day after the Super Bowl ought to be a national holiday. In fact, 2 out of 5 employees in the survey said they would rather work on Black Friday than the Monday after the Super Bowl.
Online petitions to make Super Bowl Monday a national holiday have been circulating for years. There have even been some headline-making attempts by state lawmakers to introduce bills in their respective legislatures to codify the day as a holiday. However, despite the push from fans, media personalities and some elected officials, there has been no significant traction on a federal level to make the day a national holiday with time off.
Before the Super Bowl weekend, be transparent with your employees about your expectations for their productivity on Monday and what you need from them. Your employee time-off policy is a great place to include this information.
Alongside its study, the Workforce Institute ran an article written by its executive director, Dr. Chris Mullen. Among other topics, Mullen discusses how companies can get ready for large numbers of absent employees the day after the Super Bowl.
“Unplanned absences,” Mullen said, “can be much more disruptive and costly to organizations than planned absences, so the idea is to avoid them when possible. This means making sure that employees feel comfortable taking time off when they want to or need to, and there’s a lot organizations can do to foster this: open communication between managers and employees; a clear time off policy, and creating a culture where employees feel empowered and encouraged to take care of their own mental and physical health before anything else.”
“I’d encourage employers to take [the week before the Super Bowl] to communicate openly and honestly with employees about their Super Bowl plans,” Mullen added. “Let your employees know that you recognize how hard they have been working and what a stressful time this has been for everyone. If they want to take Monday off, help them make that happen if at all possible. … Most importantly, make sure they know they can be honest with you about what they actually do, so that you can ensure that risky behavior off the clock will not put coworkers, customers, or communities at risk when they’re back on the clock.”
For offices and other environments where employee attendance is essential to productivity, employers can offer a few incentives for their workers to show up the day following the Super Bowl.
The old adage that “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” may be true if you’re using it as an incentive to get employees to come to work. Everyone loves a free meal, and promising a gourmet lunch to employees who come into the office after the Super Bowl is a great way to get people back into the building. Not only do employees get a free lunch with coworkers (and you can up the ante by offering game-day food like popular appetizers and tavern fare), they also get to gather and discuss the highlights of the game.
Workers are more likely to come in if they don’t need to be at full attention all day, so schedule fewer or no meetings for the day after the Super Bowl. Workers will feel less pressure to be “on,” and if any employees do miss work, at least they won’t miss essential information.
Make the Super Bowl a part of your work experience. If your team works weekends, consider having a party on Super Bowl Sunday so weekend employees get to enjoy the game. If your team doesn’t work weekends but is expected to come in on Monday, theme the day as “Super Bowl Monday,” and relax the dress code to allow employees to wear business casual clothes or jerseys and jeans. In either instance, load up a conference or gathering room with drinks and snacks, turn on the game or highlights coverage, and let employees ease themselves back into the workweek after an exciting national event.
Through team-building, you can improve your team’s collaboration, productivity and alignment with your company culture. These games are also known to be engagement-boosting activities that can benefit both the team and the whole organization.
Often, managers use team-building games every now and again to achieve these effects, but these activities take time away from typical work tasks. On the day after the Super Bowl, though, employees might be in no condition to do their usual work. Team-building games can motivate your employees to nevertheless come in – they’re both easy and fun.
Employee appreciation is key to low turnover, but it can be hard to prioritize on regular workdays full of projects. On the day after the Super Bowl, when not everyone is at their full capacity for tasks, you can devote the day to appreciation. Try using the day to introduce or continue an annual appreciation idea such as a gift-giving day. This can incentivize your employees to show up on a day when they’d rather stay home – and remind them why they keep coming back.
If you know it’s going to be a drag trying to motivate employees to come into the office, consider letting them work from home if they are able to complete their job remotely. Of course, the accommodation should come with the expectation that their work will be completed on time and in a top-quality manner, but there is reason to believe that employees are even more productive working from home in the right circumstances. And, with the right policies and tools in place, you can ensure your employees really do sign on for work the morning after the big game.
Although the Super Bowl isn’t yet a national holiday, it can still be a day where you do things a bit differently. You can use certain incentives to get your team in the room when they’d rather not work. Alternatively, you can devote the day to low-stakes workplace needs that you struggle to find time for on regular days. And if the Super Bowl does become a national holiday, you’ll just get another day off to recharge your batteries and do great work thereafter.
Anna Attkisson and Sean Peek contributed to the writing and reporting in this article.