Special events, like the World Cup and March Madness, can be productivity killers and inflate absenteeism, and a rare astronomical occasion is no different.

A total solar eclipse, which was anticipated to be the “most-viewed astronomical event in American history,” concluded its path across the United States on Monday, moving through Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and parts of Tennessee and Michigan, in addition to Mexico and Canada.

NASA estimated 31.6 million people reside within this path, with an additional 150 million people living within 200 miles of the path. A model from the Great American Eclipse estimated between 1 million to 4 million people would travel to the path of totality.

“When you combine the populations of Mexico, USA and Canada that live inside the path of totality, and add all of those who will travel on eclipse day, a total of 50 million North Americans witnessing totality is possible,” said Michael Zeiler, eclipse cartographer and cofounder of Great American Eclipse, in a statement.

“It’s like having 50 Super Bowls happening at the same time all across the country,” Polly White, Great American Eclipse cofounder, added.

The Business Impact Of A Solar Eclipse

American workers were not going to miss out on this experience, despite it falling in the middle of a workday, since the next total solar eclipse with a coast-to-coast path across the U.S. is not expected to happen again until August 12, 2045.

But how did the productivity dip from staff calling out of work or stepping away from their desks impact employers? To put things into perspective, based on an analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data, outplacement company Challenger, Gray & Christmas estimated that lost productivity from the 2017 solar eclipse had cost U.S. businesses nearly $700 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,” said Andrew Challenger, senior vice president of Sales and Media at Challenger, Gray & Christmas, at the time. “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.”

He believes that prohibiting employees from experiencing these events could do more harm to morale than maintain productivity levels.

Challenger added, “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.”

Although employers may focus on the amount of money and productivity lost due to workers partaking in the astronomical event, there are benefits to allowing and supporting employees to enjoy some time outdoors with co-workers, family, friends and neighbors, as it offered a chance for shared wonder and community that was lacking during the pandemic and in recent times amid economic turbulence in the U.S.

The eclipse represented a rare chance for Americans to step away from their daily work stressors. Enlightened leaders recognized the opportunity to create a shared fun experience for their staff, boosting long-term morale and employee engagement. It disrupted monotonous routines and helped to foster social connection.

Source: Forbes

Find your next role here

Career Coach Gurus

Find your personal career coach here