UKG: 27.5 Million Employed Americans Plan to Miss Work to Watch 2024 Summer Olympics

UKG Workforce Institute survey finds playing hooky could become Olympic-sized event across America this summer for those who plan to watch

LOWELL, Mass., & WESTON, Fla.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–As hundreds of elite athletes go for the gold this summer in France, millions of fanatic employees could be absent from work in America. More than 27.5 million1 employed Americans plan to miss at least some work to watch the 2024 Summer Olympics over the two-week spectacle, airing July 26 to August 11 — from taking a day off (12%) to playing hooky (8%) to ghosting their employer altogether (5%) — according to a new survey conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of the UKG Workforce Institute™.


How the 2024 Summer Olympics Could Impact Workplace Productivity

According to the UKG survey, 59% of employed Americans plan to watch the 2024 Summer Olympics, with more than a third (39%) planning to tune in live and 31% planning to catch the competition on demand or on delay. With the Summer Olympics taking place in Paris — up to 12 hours ahead of U.S. time zones — it could impact both employee absenteeism and presenteeism in the workplace:

More than 8.5 million2 employed Americans plan to come into work late/leave work early to watch the 2024 Summer Olympics.

More than 7.6 million3 employed Americans plan to call in sick, even though they’re not sick (i.e., play hooky), so they can watch the 2024 Summer Olympics — including 1 in 10 managers (11%).

Over 4.7 million4 employed Americans plan to skip work without notice (i.e., ghost their employer) to watch the 2024 Summer Olympics.

Even fully staffed organizations could experience Olympic-sized slowdowns in employee productivity during the summer games. The UKG survey uncovered:

More than 12.3 million5 employed Americans plan to watch the 2024 Summer Olympics while working (i.e., during work hours) without their boss’ permission.

Nearly two-thirds of employees who plan to watch the 2024 Summer Olympics while working (65%) will watch for more than an hour while they’re supposed to be working — with 7% of employees and 5% of managers saying they plan to watch for six or more hours while on the clock.

Over a quarter of employees who plan to watch the 2024 Summer Olympics (27%) say they’ll be less productive at work because they’ll be watching during work hours — including 1 in 3 managers (35%).

About one-third of employees who plan to watch the games (30%) think they’ll be less productive at work because they stayed up late/woke up early to watch.

Missing Work for Must-See Olympic Events

For nearly two decades, UKG has examined U.S. employee absenteeism, presenteeism, and productivity impacts in the “Super Bowl flu” phenomenon in which people miss work the Monday following the big game. Given that the 2024 Summer Olympics will take place over 17 days, organizations could see more sporadic impacts in the workplace caused by popular events taking place during working hours.

To better gauge which sports might have the greatest effects on employee productivity, UKG asked employed Americans who plan to watch the 2024 Summer Olympics while working, “Which 2024 Summer Olympic event(s) would you be willing to miss work to watch or watch while working in order to watch live?” The survey revealed the most popular events are:

Men’s basketball (61%)

Men’s soccer (44%)

Women’s gymnastics (39%)

Women’s basketball (35%)

Women’s beach volleyball (34%)

Organizations Have Communication, Trust Hurdles to Clear

Fortunately, some organizations are ahead of the games and have already begun preparations for a more productive workplace during the 2024 Summer Olympics. According to the UKG survey:

Nearly half of employed Americans who are managers (47%) say they’ve talked with their direct reports about taking time off to watch the 2024 Summer Olympics — and more than a quarter (26%) have already made appropriate staffing arrangements to cover work.

However, 39% of employed Americans who are managers say this isn’t something they would discuss with their direct reports. It’s little wonder then, that:

Over half of employed Americans with a manager (57%) say they don’t feel comfortable asking their manager for time off to watch the 2024 Summer Olympics — including a majority of managers (58%) themselves!

Only about 1 in 5 employed Americans who plan to watch the 2024 Summer Olympics (19%) say they have talked with their manager about taking time off to watch the 2024 Summer Olympics, and their manager supports them taking time off to watch — while 12% say their manager told them they can’t take time off to watch.

Meanwhile, just 10% of employed Americans who plan to watch the 2024 Summer Olympics say they plan to swap shifts with a co-worker — and only 12% plan to take a pre-approved vacation or personal day — in order to watch the 2024 Summer Olympics.

“Taking time off shouldn’t be a taboo topic for employees and organizations,” said Pat Wadors, chief people officer at UKG. “As these UKG survey results showcase, we need to start having more honest and open conversations with each other at work — especially managers and their direct reports. Milestone events like the Summer Olympics, the Super Bowl, and other monumental moments across the globe are ripe opportunities for expanding the lines of communication, building trust with your people, and elevating the employee experience, which can ultimately increase productivity long term and boost your overall business.”

About the UKG Workforce Institute

Established in 2007, the UKG Workforce Institute is a global think tank of researchers, economists, and HR and business leaders dedicated to driving organizational performance through an emphasis on people. Through investigative research and executive analysis, our esteemed board members share proprietary studies, data-driven insights, and actionable strategies for succeeding in the changing world of work.

About UKG

At UKG, our purpose is people. We are on a mission to inspire every organization to become a great place to work through HCM technology built for all. More than 80,000 organizations across all sizes, industries, and geographies trust UKG HR, payroll, workforce management, and culture cloud solutions to drive great workplace experiences and make better, more confident people and business decisions. With the world’s largest collection of people data, work data, and culture data combined with rich experience using artificial intelligence in the service of people, we connect culture insights with business outcomes to show what’s possible when organizations invest in their people. To learn more, visit ukg.com.

Follow the UKG Workforce Institute on LinkedIn. Follow UKG on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, X, and YouTube.

Survey Methodology: This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of UKG from June 11 to June 13, 2024, among 1,122 adults ages 18 and older, among whom 657 plan to watch the 2024 Summer Olympics. The sampling precision of Harris online polls is measured by using a Bayesian credible interval. For this study, the sample data is accurate to within +/- 3.6 percentage points using a 95% confidence level. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact media@ukg.com.

Footnote 1: Calculation based on a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2024 report that estimates there are 161,083,000 employed adults in the United States: 161,083,000 x 59% who plan to watch the 2024 Summer Olympics x 29% who plan to miss at least some work to watch the 2024 Summer Olympics = 27,561,301. This includes people who plan to take a pre-approved vacation or personal day; who plan to come into work late/leave work early; who plan to call in sick, even though they’re not sick; and who plan to skip work without notice.

Footnote 2: Calculation based on a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2024 report that estimates there are 161,083,000 employed adults in the United States: 161,083,000 x 59% who plan to watch the 2024 Summer Olympics x 9% who plan to come into work late/leave early to watch the 2024 Summer Olympics = 8,553,507.

Footnote 3: Calculation based on a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2024 report that estimates there are 161,083,000 employed adults in the United States: 161,083,000 x 59% who plan to watch the 2024 Summer Olympics x 8% of who plan to call in sick, even though they’re not sick (i.e., play hooky), so they can watch the 2024 Summer Olympics = 7,603,118.

Footnote 4: Calculation based on a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2024 report that estimates there are 161,083,000 employed adults in the United States: 161,083,000 x 59% who plan to watch the 2024 Summer Olympics x 5% who plan to skip work without notice (i.e., ghost their employer) to watch the 2024 Summer Olympics = 4,751,949.

Footnote 5: Calculation based on a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2024 report that estimates there are 161,083,000 employed adults in the United States: 161,083,000 x 59% who plan to watch the 2024 Summer Olympics x 13% who plan to watch the 2024 Summer Olympics while working (i.e., during working hours) without their boss’ permission = 12,355,066.

Copyright 2024 UKG Inc. All rights reserved. For a full list of UKG trademarks, please visit ukg.com/trademarks. All other trademarks, if any, are property of their respective owners. All specifications are subject to change.

Contacts

UKG Contact:
media@ukg.com