In 1966, Sen. George Aiken urged President Lyndon Johnson to acknowledge the reality of the burgeoning Vietnam War. It was, to put it mildly, not going well. Sen. Aiken, a flinty Vermonter who eschewed brutal partisanship, had an elegant solution: simply declare victory in Vietnam and bring the troops home.
While LBJ chose to ignore this advice, those of us who lead human resources have a similar, albeit far less weighty choice before us when it comes to the Super Bowl. In the 2016 “Super Bowl 50 Fever Sidelines Employees” survey conducted by the Workforce Institute at Kronos, 16.5 million American said they may not go to work on Monday following the Super Bowl. When the survey was done, 10.5 million workers had already requested the day off. A day of revelry, celebrating or commiserating nationwide on Super Bowl Sunday leads to a tsunami of sick days the following day or worse: employees going through the motions at work while accomplishing little.
The global outsourcing firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas, in some back-of-the-envelope estimating, figures that employers could lose $1.8 billion in productivity on Monday as bleary-eyed workers come in late to work and others spend an hour during the day discussing the game. And if those 16 million actually do take the day off, the tab rises to about $3 billion.
As you might expect, the challenge of this “Malaise Monday” was pronounced at DraftKings, where sports are our business. We found numerous employees called in “sick” and a majority of those who did venture in were, to put it charitably, unproductive.
At DraftKings, sports are not only what we specialize in – they are in our blood. Due to the daily nature of our operations, and the fact that there is always a sport in season or a game to be played, we are always busy. But the NFL season tends to be a different game entirely: the number of hours spent on creative ideas, critical thinking and coding from the beginning of summer to the Super Bowl is nothing short of remarkable. As a reward for our employees and their hard work during our “football season,” it occurred to us that everyone involved might benefit from recognizing the Monday after the Super Bowl as an official holiday.
Seeing this reality, our team approached our CEO, eager to convince him. DraftKings is a data-driven company, so we presented him with the statistics on employee productivity (or lack thereof), as well as some numbers proving the positive effects of giving the staff that Monday off. We simply gave him the facts and made a convincing argument. If you find yourself in a similar situation, I encourage you to do the same.
After we made the Monday after the Super Bowl a company holiday, the results were game-changing. Our colleagues returned to work on Tuesday rested and recharged – and instead of lamenting the lost day of productivity, we now celebrate and embrace that Monday as part of our “work hard/play hard” culture. Our current staff appreciates the day off, and it’s something unique we can highlight to prospective DraftKings employees. While we still have just 12 total company holidays, it’s important that one of them departs from the corporate norm and fits perfectly with our employees’ preferences.
Of course, the aftermath of the Super Bowl affects industries outside of sports. Even if you’re not a sports company, you more than likely employ hundreds – maybe even thousands – of sports fans who look forward to the big game each year, and like our employees, their excitement spills over into Monday. I encourage you to look at your own data as it pertains to employee sick days/absenteeism, as well as productivity. Chances are you’ll encounter similar numbers to what we uncovered. Based on the facts, you might be able to present a convincing case to your company’s chief decision-makers.
It’s no secret that everyone likes a day off. But what we’ve found by giving our employees this day off, is that the practical day of rest and their appreciation for it have resulted in a morale uptick and more productivity once they return on Tuesday. As we prepare for Super Bowl LII, we at DraftKings urge you to consider whether it’s sensible for your company to make the Monday after the big game an official holiday. If you present the idea with the right data, trust us, it won’t feel like a Hail Mary heave to the end zone.