HR Grapevine: - Spoiler-free look at the workplace cost of GoT

An extract from another interesting article from the team at "HR Grapevine". Click on the link to find our more or register for their regular updates:

The final episode of Game of Thrones (GoT) was aired last night in the US, drawing one of the most successful series in television history to a close.

With British employees waking up to the big reveal – and arising at an unearthly hour to catch up on the drama series before heading to work – employers may see lots of overtired, bedraggled and grouchy employees filing into the office this morning. And some are expected to not show up altogether.

According to a poll by the Workforce Institute at Kronos, 10.7million American workers are expected to skip work today after watching the GoT finale. The study indicated that many fans will either call in sick or use a last-minute holiday allowance to avoid having to go into the office – reported.

But it seems that this last minute GoT ‘sickie’ culture isn’t exclusive to American workers; research has found that UK workers have had a tendency to jump on this bandwagon too.

Last month, The Sun reported that almost three million Brits were expected to pull a sickie after staying up all night to watch the season eight opener of the cult fantasy series.

The poll of 2,000 adults by Culture Trip found that six per cent – which equated to 3.1million – considered pleading a last-minute illness to their employer, in the hope that this wouldn’t look too suspicious.

Stark work absence figures are likely to cause huge issues for HR. So, HR Grapevine has collated five of the biggest costs of GoT in the workplace.

Sleep deprivation

A lack of sleep impacts both physical health and concentration. According to a study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, healthy adults should get a minimum of seven hours sleep per night, however, Hult International Business School’s research found that, of the professionals polled, adults only got six hours and 28 minutes of sleep on average per night.

With some workers tuning in at 2am sleep deprivation which can make employees more prone to making mistakes and this has little benefit for business.


With the final episode airing in the UK at 2am this morning, some early birds may have been tempted to stay awake and be one of the first to catch sight of the show. But those who are less of a morning person may feel tempted to catch up on the last episode during work time so they feel they aren’t missing out. Trying to multi-task by watching GoT in the background while trying to whittle through an overdue report, can hugely destroy productivity.

This is backed by stats. According to a 2009 Stanford University study, heavy multitaskers were found to be less mentally organised and found it difficult to differentiate between relevant and irrelevant details. This could greatly impact on an employee’s ability to complete work to a high standard.

Meeting deadlines

Missing deadlines due to a last-minute GoT ‘sickie’ is not only unprofessional but it also lets the team down. Sticking to deadline dates is crucial to ensure that business operates smoothly. If an employee misses a deadline, it may well impact on a colleague’s ability to complete their job if they are working in tandem. Long-term, this missed deadline could result in low morale, high burnout and poor engagement as employees scramble to catch up on their pressing deadlines.


Particularly if the ‘sick’ employee is a line manager or a member of the leadership team, the repercussions of this GoT-induced sickness will be far greater. Teams require leadership to guide them in the right direction and to help their individual output better the business. Without a leader present, it may be more difficult for teams to deliver tasks in a timely manner and in line with the overarching goals of the company.

Work-life balance

Obtaining a healthy work-life balance is crucial to ensure that employees are happy and healthy at work. However, if employees aren’t making the most of their downtime, or getting enough rest to help them recuperate, then they are likely to feel the effects when they are at work and are forced to concentrate for long periods of time.

So, should HR give in to the craze and allow employees to tune into GoT at work?

According to a recent Netflix study, 37% of those polled admitted to watching the streaming site whilst at work, however, it is likely that these figures are far higher. In order to evaluate the feasibility of this, HR should firstly assess to what extent watching GoT will distract the individual as well as the rest of their team.

HR should ensure that the visual stimulus won’t avert the employee’s attention too much – according to A Plus. And, particularly for a series that has gained so much traction and caused so much hysteria online, it is likely that allowing employees to catch up on the final episode will cause more harm than good. HR should also consider the following before mcasting their decision.

How appropriate is the content?

The second factor to consider is the propriety of the content. Is there lots of swearing and violence? Nude or sexual scenes? If so, then it is less appropriate for an employee to watch in a professional work setting.

Does it hinder productivity?

The final point to consider is whether watching TV on the side is likely to help or hinder workplace productivity. If there is any chance that allowing employees to catch up on the episode will transcend into an afternoon of tweeting, Instagramming and general gossiping with colleagues over the finale, then it is likely to have a huge impact on work productivity.

So, HR should consider their workforce before either permitting or preventing employees from catching up on GoT at the office. Would you let your employees catch up at work or make them wait until their lunch hour? Let us know in the comments below…