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October 8th, 2005:

Playoff baseball = lost productivity

You may live for the playoffs, but if you do so at the office, you’re part of a $225 million problem.

Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas estimates that the playoff schedule will cost employers about $225 million this year, as employees either talk about the games or try to follow their progress during working hours.

“Right now, the divisional playoffs will have at least five games played during business hours. This could lead to unscheduled absences, early departures or, at the very least, a significant workday distraction,” said John A. Challenger, CEO of the firm.


Challenger’s estimate of a $225 million cost to employers is based on an average of a half-hour of lost worker productivity in each of the eight playoff cities, using the average pay in those cities. He said that while not every employee is going to follow or talk about the games, that could be balanced by employees who closely follow the action during working hours.

Challenger said that the lost productivity shouldn’t make a dent in the economies of the eight cities involved, however.

“A little downtime – even three hours’ worth – is unlikely even to register a blip on the economic radar for these cities, all of which are in the top 25 in terms of gross metropolitan product,” he said. “Together, these cities manage economic output of more than $1.6 trillion in products and services every year. It would take a major business shutdown lasting several days or weeks to put these economies at risk.”

Hey, maybe these employees will all be talking about the games during the time that they would normally be goofing off by other means. You never know.

By the way, the firm of Challenger, Gray & Christmas seems to pop up with an analysis of productivity losses every time there’s a major cultural event happening. Any guesses how much time and revenue they lose doing that instead of what they normally get paid to do? Maybe someone will ask John Challenger that next time he sends out one of these press releases.