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Opening Arguments

Super waste of time

This is one of those reports with big numbers that sound impressive until you realize it's mostly fiction, the result of accountants just doing silly calculations to get attention:

However, the nation's employers could potentially lose as much as $162.1 million for every 10 minutes they pay distracted workers for unproductive work time, according to an estimate released Monday by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

In the week leading up to the Sunday, February 4 game between the Chicago Bears and the Indianapolis Colts, the amount in lost wages could exceed $810 million. In Chicago and Indianapolis, the losses could reach $85.5 million.
The Challenger estimate does not take into account the continued loss of productivity the following Monday, as employees analyze the game, rate commercials or simply fail to show up due to post-Super Bowl XLI party “illness.”

Challenger's calculations are based on the assumption that of the estimated 90 million Americans expected to watch Super Bowl XLI, 63.4 percent or 57.1 million are employed. The percentage is based on the current national employment-to-population ratio. The average weekly income for all workers in America is $682, according to the latest available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That breaks down to $17.05 per hour or $2.84 every 10 minutes in a 40-hour work week.

According to the calculations, for every 10 minutes the 57.1 million employed Super Bowl fans spend at work chatting about the game or surfing the Internet to compare starting line-ups, it costs employers $162.1 million.

All those calculations are meaningless. For one thing, they assume that all the people wasting all that time on Super Bowl shenanigans don't waste their time otherwise. To get a true account of "lost revenue," you'd have to subtract normal time-wasting from one-time-only Super Bowl time-wasting. For another, the only real loss would be if the company's mission weren't being accomplished, or if there were a measurable delay in production or delivery or some other aspect of the company's business.

But look for this report to get a lot of play everywhere. Stupid, silly and lazy.

Posted in: Sports


Bob G.
Thu, 01/25/2007 - 6:22am

Not to worry...if and when they pass the minimum wage RAISE, a lot of employers will have to get rid of workers JUST to keep breaking even with the wages paid out...

And then unemployment will rise, but at least there will be FEWER workers (still employed) "wasting time"...right?


Thu, 01/25/2007 - 2:23pm

Nancy Nall did a similar piece a few years ago when Challenger, Gray & Christmas pulled some numbers like these out of its ass. If I recall, it was about how much Janet Jackson's boob cost the economy when people could hardly talk about anything else for a week.

Steve Towsley
Thu, 01/25/2007 - 5:09pm

Personally, I wouldn't waste a millisecond of my time on Janet Jackson's boob. On such a water-cooler topic I'm more than happy to be out of touch and therefore a superior performer on any staff.