Spoiler Alert: #GoT is ending – Absence is Coming

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This post is submitted by Joyce Maroney, Executive Director of the Workforce Institute at Kronos. They’ve done the research to determine what impact the finale of Game of Thrones will have on the workplace. Hint: Absence is coming!
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Our latest research, conducted by The Harris Poll, says a lot of people will miss work, come in late, or be somewhat less productive than normal on Monday as a result of watching the long awaited series finale of Game of Thrones.

One-third (34%) of employed U.S. adults who participated in the survey say they plan to watch the finale Sunday night, which would make it one of the 10 most-watched series finales in television history. The survey, conducted online from May 7-9, 2019 among 1,090 employed U.S. adults ages 18 and older, reveals that an estimated 27.2 million U.S. employees believe that GoT’s conclusion will potentially have a direct impact on their work obligations. (All percentages cited are based directly from survey results and U.S. census data.)

For those of you who want to know what’s on your employees’ minds when it comes to attendance and productivity on Monday, read on for the survey highlights.

Attendance Impacts:

  • Approximately 27.2 million employees who plan to watch the Game of Thrones finale live admit they will either miss work completely, arrive late, work remotely, be less productive than usual, or experience another impact on work obligations Monday.
  • An estimated 10.7 million American employees who plan to watch the finale say they will skip work so that they can witness who ascends to the Iron Throne and celebrate or cope with the aftermath, including 5.8 million employees who typically work Sunday nights but plan to use a vacation day, sick day, or personal day to watch the finale live.
  • About 2.9 million Americans plan to show up late to work Monday morning, while 3.4 million will work remotely even though they usually do not.

Productivity Impacts:

  • The final season of Game of Thrones has spoiled productivity to date, with 20.4 million employees admitting that watching the current season has affected their attendance and/or performance at work, including 4.4 million employees who have missed work specifically to stream re-runs to refresh their memory on key plotlines or catch up on missed episodes.
  • Game of Thrones has given new meaning to the “Sunday Scaries,” as 7.3 million employees admit they have called out sick, taken a personal day, or used a vacation day to miss work on a Monday specifically because they watched Game of Thrones the night before.
  • Even when they are supposed to be working, many fans say their minds are still in Westeros: 12.7 million employees watching the current season say they spend five or more hours per week talking about, reading about, or posting online about Game of Thrones, while another 16.5 million admit they’ve spent between one and four hours doing the same.
  • 35.8 million employees have spent at least one hour per week of company time this season talking about, reading about, or posting online about Game of Thrones, even if they don’t actively watch the show.

Who would our respondents like to work for?

  • Of this season’s most-likely characters to occupy the Iron Throne, one in four employees watching the current season of Game of Thrones (28%) say they would most want Jon Snow to be their manager.
  • Tyrion Lannister was voted the second most-popular would-be manager (12%), with the Mother of Dragons, Daenerys Targaryen, ranked third (9%). (I’m thinking Danny’s ranking might have changed after episode 5.)
  • Even Cersei Lannister received a few votes, with 2% of fans apparently okay with being managed by fear.
  • Overall, most employees would prefer their manager come from House Stark (43%) versus House Lannister (17%), with Arya Stark (7%) receiving the second-most votes for the North.

Having reviewed the survey results, can I take a moment to discuss my favorite character, Arya Stark? I’m seeing a lot of articles this week focused on the leadership lessons that can be drawn from GoT. Arya’s on a leadership track no doubt, but let’s talk about why any manager would want Arya on his or her team. Sure, she’s a handful, but a handful of awesomeness!

Let’s think back to who she was when we started this journey to the Seven Kingdoms eight years ago. She was a child, let’s say a newbie in employment terms. She didn’t have a lot of skills, nor did she want to be stuck in the role her superiors had in mind for her. Her superior (Ned Stark) helps her cultivate the sword-fighting skills she wants to develop for the role she has in mind, while holding her accountable for continuing to develop the domestic skills suited to her then current role as a future noblewoman.

Though there hasn’t been a smooth path for Arya over the years, we’ve seen her act with autonomy, resilience and great courage in the face of unbelievable obstacles. She’s formed alliances with difficult peers (Sandore Clegane), worked tirelessly to master difficult skills (sword fighting, assuming others’ identities), and achieves one of the ultimate goals of the Seven Kingdoms – she kills the Night King.

As she grew in competence and confidence, was she easy to manage? Absolutely not. Did she take ownership of her own development, establish a set of goals for herself, and ultimately accomplish great things? You betcha. She’s the kind of top talent that any organization wants on their side.

Do major cultural events like this have to hit productivity so hard? Or can they be an opportunity to provide your Aryas with evidence that you respect their work life balance? Empower employees with flexible schedules and the ability to request time off or swap shifts from anywhere, at any time so they can enjoy moments that matter in their lives, and don’t be shy to use pop culture common ground to build camaraderie with employees and managers.