For the first time since 1979, the United States will have a front row seat to a total solar eclipse stretching 70 miles wide and following a path from Oregon to South Carolina. While this is a hotly anticipated event that is generating plenty of excitement among prospective viewers, much to many employers’ dismay, it is taking place right in the middle of the Monday workday, potentially causing a disruption to productivity.
It is estimated that workers will need approximately 20 minutes to gather their viewing equipment and find a spot to watch the two to two-and-a-half minute solar event and, based on an analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), this could cost $694 million, according to a study by Challenger, Gray and Christmas.
The cost to states and metro areas directly in the path of the eclipse, where traffic is expected to increase substantially, could see almost $200 million in lost productivity combined. When you consider just the single city of Chicago, the cost to employers could hit $28 million.
“That is not to say employers need to board their windows and keep employees locked up in conference room meetings until the eclipse ends. Rather, looking for how to turn this lack of productivity into a way to increase morale and strengthen the team is a much better use of the eclipse,” said Andrew Challenger, Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
It’s going to be pretty difficult to get people to keep working when the solar eclipse is happening, and preventing employees from viewing it will probably do more to harm morale than to increase productivity.
“A loss of productivity does not necessarily mean that good things cannot come out of this eclipse. By considering how this event may impact employee morale, companies can turn this potential monetary loss to a gain when it comes to employee satisfaction,” said Challenger.