Imagine this: It is a Sunday night in May—9 pm to be exact. You pour a glass of wine and settle in for what you know will be a thrilling 80 minute episode of Game of Thrones. Maybe some friends are over. Maybe you're desperately alone. It doesn't matter, all that matters is it's time for THRONES (cue theme song in your head). As expected, the episode thrills. Jon Snow flies a dragon. Cersei says something ridiculously evil. The Night King and Bran get locked in a vision battle. You shiver. Then, as the episode is coming to a close, and you are nearly emotionally spent, Brienne of Tarth confronts Jaime Lannister—she has learned new information. He is in part responsible for the death of her late queen, Catelyn Stark, to whom she had given her allegiance (or she's mad at him for something else, whatever). She slices his throat. Then Bronn comes out from the shadows and guts her like a fish. Lots of death. Big death. You are sad, confused, dismayed, thrilled. But it's only 10:30. So you pour another glass of wine (a bit bigger this time), and watch the episode again. Midnight sneaks up on you. The Sunday Scaries hit like a ton of bricks. Monday is going to be awful, again. This has happened four weeks in a row now. You can't break the pattern. Maybe you'll call out of work in the morning. Maybe you'll fall asleep at your desk. Maybe you'll just play movies in class for your students all day (Monday Movie day, kids! Let's keep the lights off).
Nobody better even look at me today.
Now imagine a version of this happening all across the country—nay, the world—each weekend: adults structuring their Sundays around one of the most anticipated and most watched shows of our generation. And dragging their sorry, obsessed behinds into work the next day with little to no emotional or physical energy. Should employers be concerned? Should they adjust? Should they cancel Monday forever?
Let's quickly evaluate this with another example: the Super Bowl. This year, a reported 98.2 million people tuned in to the big game, and an estimated 17 million called out the following day, well above your average Monday blues. It's become a trend, so much in fact that they've begun calling the day after the Super Bowl Super Sick Monday:
And that post-game drain gets expensive. Executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. estimates that Super Bowl-related distractions and absences could cost employers up to $4.4 billion this year. “If all of the workers who watch the Super Bowl spend just one hour of their work day discussing the game or come in one hour late, the productivity losses could hit $1.7 billion,” says Andrew Challenger, Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. in a report. “This is on top of the $2.6 billion in productivity losses from people choosing to stay home from work on Monday.”
Now, while only 12 million were reported to watch the seventh season finale of Thrones live in August of 2017, the most watched episode thus far, this isn't such an apples and oranges comparison. Considering the show's growth in popularity over time and the stakes of the final season, one can expect the live viewership to grow substantially. Consider, too, that many of these episodes will be longer than the typical 60 minute runtime, with several anticipated to clock in at 80 minutes long. And finally, as above, consider the emotional toll some of these pinnacle episodes might have on their viewers (remember how you felt after the Red Wedding? Yeah, me too). And these episodes definitely promise death and destruction. In fact, there are even betting odds on who will survive, who will die first, and who will sit upon the throne by the final credits.
I'll throw a tenner on Cersei just because I hate her.
A loss in worker productivity should be inevitable. And it should come as no surprise to employers that their workers will be discussing the previous night's episode around the water cooler at best, and calling out en masse at worst. Should they adjust, and how? Some might try more coffee in the break room, or a more lenient line on the day's start time, while others could even consider bringing in a counselor to help workers cope with the trauma from the previous night (or at least an emotional support puppy for crissake!). I'm sure most, however, will keep things running business-as-usual, even if that means their employees are crying on the inside over the fact that Jon Snow just sacrificed himself to the Night King so that Daenerys and their unborn son could fly off to safety.