May 20, 2005
These are not the workers you're looking for

I'm glad that someone finally tried to quantify this.

[A] survey released by the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas...estimated U.S. employers could lose as much as $627 million from employee absenteeism on Thursday and today, thanks to the mid-week release of Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith. Information technology workers were expected to be the biggest culprits.

Bet you didn't see that last part coming. Here's how they arrive at that figure.

The findings are based on the assumption that attendance during the first two days will match that of the last "Star Wars" blockbuster, "Episode II Attack of the Clones," which attracted 9.4 million people in in 2002.

[CEO John] Challenger estimates that 4.8 million of those opening-day attendees are employed at least 35 hours per week. With those full-timers earning an average of $130.60 per day, the two-day cost in terms of lost wages and productivity would be a staggering $626,880,000, he said.

Well, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em:

Many at movie theaters Thursday were there because of work.

Some companies sponsored movie outings. A preemptive strike against employees too "sick" to work?

Tom Lammers, president and co-owner of Houston Structural, calls it a "tradition." He was at Edwards Marq*E for the 9:30 a.m. show Thursday.

"We just lucked into it the first time back in 1977; it was only playing at the Galleria," he said. "It was just me and one employee, and it was raining so we took the day off. It was fantastic. We've gone to every Star Wars opening since, and all my employees seem to like it. If not, they don't tell me."

Employees of Secure Data Solutions also didn't have to worry about skipping work. With Juniper Networks and other local businesses, the companies invited customers to a reserved theater in Edwards Grand Palace. They gave a short product pitch before treating attendees to soda, popcorn and a viewing of Revenge of the Sith.

The presentation should be "enough excuse to get out of the office," says R.J. Dobbins, account manager for Secure Data Solutions.

"It's all about relationship-building, and this is a perfect opportunity to do that," he adds.

Sure it is.

Hey, it makes sense to me. That works well in smaller offices - I work for much too large a company for that, though I suppose it's possible some manager might have taken his or her employees to the movies today. I say if it keeps the proles happy, it's worth whatever the lost "productivity" would have been.

Oh, and for those (two or three) of you who aren't hip to the whole Star Wars thing, here's a helpful little diagram (done by UggaBugga, link via Julia) to help you out.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 20, 2005 to TV and movies | TrackBack

I know that the Seattle office of Google took off part of yesterday and Microsoft was today. Word on the street was Microsoft even provided a stipend for popcorn.

Posted by: 'stina on May 20, 2005 4:46 PM

"Oh, and for those (two or three) of you who aren't hip to the whole Star Wars thing, here's a helpful little diagram (done by UggaBugga, link via Julia) to help you out."

I'm one of those few, and I still can't get excited about the new film.

I'm sorry, folks, it's just not my thing. I've never seen any of the Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter films either.

Posted by: William Hughes on May 20, 2005 6:17 PM