Solar eclipse could cost U.S. businesses $700 million in productivity

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Solar Eclipse, pictured May 21, 2012, is expected to cost American nearly $700 million.

Reuters reported that a outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas found workers will head out of the office for roughly 20 minutes a piece, though that may be a conservative estimate, according to a vice president at the Chicago-based firm. About 82 percent of the US workforce, or 87,307,940 employees, works an average weekday.

With the solar eclipse occurring in the middle of the workday, employers may face issues with productivity as the once-in-a-lifetime event occurs outside, right above workers' heads. Additionally, according to the most recent data on flexible schedules from the BLS taken in 2004, 14.8 percent of the employed worked a shift other than a day shift.

To get the overall figure of almost $700 million, Challenger multiplied that by the Bureau of Labor Statistics' latest estimate for average hourly wages for all workers 16 and over.

Add next week's total eclipse of the sun to the list of worker distractions that cost US companies hundreds of millions of dollars in lost productivity.

Still, this is nothing in comparison to the lost productivity during March Madness, Cyber Monday and the day after the Super Bowl.

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"That is not to say employers need to board their windows and keep employees locked up in conference room meetings until the eclipse ends". But it's probably going to be hard to get work out of people while the eclipse is happening.

Challenger adds, "Since this is happening over the lunch hours, the financial impact is minimal".

Just as the Earth is a mere speck in the universe, however, Challenger said this is still a small sum.

"Building in time around lunch to mark the special occasion will encourage employees to interact and have something to be excited about", Challenger said in the statement. However, CGC suggests that a loss in productivity isn't necessarily a bad thing because the eclipse can be used as a way to boost company morale.

Events like this are likely to have an outsized effect on smaller companies, Challenger said.

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