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HUMAN RESOURCES

Super Bowl Hangover

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Come kickoff time on Super Bowl Sunday, more than 100 million Americans will be tuned in to the festivities in Detroit. The following morning, however, usually leaves Super Bowl partiers feeling far less festive. And for employers more focused on the bottom line than the final score, that can make for a not-so-Super Monday.

Nearly 1.4 million adults said they planned to call in "sick the day after the Super Bowl, according to a survey commissioned before last year's game by Kronos, a Chelmsford, Mass.-based workforce-management firm.

And that doesn't include time wasted by employees who do show up, only to discuss the game by the water cooler or read the sports section. Even just a few minutes spent on pigskin instead of work can add up -- Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a global outplacement firm based in Chicago, puts the post-Super Bowl loss of productivity at more than $1 billion.

The economic effects of Super Bowl Sunday are well-publicized. For this year's game, Detroit officials estimate that more than $300 million will be pumped into the local economy -- money spent on hotels, food, transportation, and other attractions. Across the nation, more than 20 million Americans will throw a Super Bowl party, and consumers are expected to spend a total of nearly $5.6 billion on everything from food and drinks to entertainment centers and team apparel.

Employees may wake up Monday morning with bad hangovers and bloated stomachs, but the employers who have to deal with absentees and low productivity are the ones who may end up with the real headaches.

The Seattle Seahawks will be making their first-ever Super Bowl appearance on Feb. 5, and Dan Moffat, CEO of Vancouver, Wash.-based New Edge Networks, is bracing for at least some post-game disruption. "They show up with the hangover, we give them lots of Starbucks, he jokes.

Richard Gustafson, CEO of Eoscene, a Renton, Wash.-based data management company, acknowledges the unique circumstances this year, but expects business-as-usual from his staff. "As excited as everyone here is for the Seahawks, when Monday comes, there will still be a lot of work to be done, he says.

Some human-resources experts recommend that bosses take a realistic approach when major (and distracting) events come along, to curry favor with employees, rather than fight the tide and end up looking like the proverbial "bad guy. Pete Chase, CEO of Purcell Systems, based in Spokane Valley, Wash., knows his employees have waited a long time for the Seahawks to make the NFL's biggest game, so he's giving them the green light to live it up on Sunday. "If they come in sometime near the mid-afternoon, I guess it is justified, he says. "Hey, you don't know when this will happen again. But expect the special treatment to last only as long as the Seahawks' championship run. "This year they get a late pass, he says.

Marc Kinley, vice president of nMotion Technologies, is taking things a step further. Rather than face the reality of some employees skipping out on work, Kinley is pushing for legislation that would make the Monday following the Super Bowl a national holiday. Kinley, along with three friends, launched SuperBowlMonday.com in August 2005, to petition Congress for the new three-day weekend. "The Super Bowl is truly an American holiday, says Kinley, who already gives his employees a half day after the big game. "I don't know what else could bring so many people together without any boundaries, regardless of religion or ethnic background.




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