The Super Bowl Lie That Could Hurt Your Career
Life + Money

The Super Bowl Lie That Could Hurt Your Career


If it's harder to resist hitting that snooze button come Monday morning, well, you won't be the only worker trudging in a bit late. Just resist the urge to lie about why.

One in four workers is late at least once a month, according to a newsurvey of 3,000 workers and 2,100 hiring managers from job Some 14 percent said they're late at least once a week. Numbers usually jump on Super Bowl Monday. An oft-cited 2008 study from the Workforce Institute at Kronos estimates that 4.4 million employees arrive to work late the day after the big game, while more than 1.5 million don't go to work that day at all.

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There's definitely a spike in absenteeism on Super Bowl Monday, said Kevin Curry, a senior vice president at absence management company Reed Group, which works with more than 800 large firms. Some workers are quick to cite the big game. Others fall back on other excuses. (In general, workers are most likely to blame a lack of sleep, bad weather, public transportation delays or their kids for being late, according to CareerBuilder.)

Immediate productivity losses range "into the millions of dollars" from post-Super Bowl work delays and absences but the net loss is usually minimal, said John Challenger, chief executive of outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Workers today are more apt to stay late or bring work home to make up for lost time. "There's always catch up," he said.

If there's good news, it's that your manager might not care that you're late. The CareerBuilder survey found that one-third of employers don't have a problem with the occasional late arrival, and 16 percent said punctuality didn't matter if employees still got their work done. "We've seen over time that employers are becoming more lenient when it comes to start times," said Jennifer Grasz, a spokeswoman for CareerBuilder.

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Expect less flexibility in industries where production is measured (like manufacturing) or shifts have an inflexible start time (like health care). "Your boss is probably looking at the bottom line and how the organization is measured," said Curry.

Common Late-to-Work Excuses

% Who cited it
Lack of sleep 30%
Bad weather 26%
Getting kids to school/daycare 12%
Public transportation problems 7%
Wardrobe issues 6%

With that in mind, speak up if you expect a late start next week. "Talk with your boss if you're going to be up late partying, celebrating, crying in your beer, whatever it is," said Challenger. "Most companies are pretty flexible. They just don't like to be taken by surprise." Advance notice lets you plan around any of the boss's concerns—say, that you'll still make the 10:30 a.m. conference call or work a little later today to make sure a presentation is ready by its Monday afternoon deadline.

Hourly workers can see about the possibility of switching shifts, said Curry, or making up for missed time. "See if you can negotiate shortening your day Monday, but see if your employer will let you make up that time at some other point in the week," he said. A better bet: Ask for the day off, said Curry. A 2014 Oxford Economics study estimated that U.S. workers are only using 77 percent of time they're entitled to. "If you're a big sports fan, then I think you should ask for the day off," he said. "Use your [paid time off]. That's what it's there for, work-life balance."

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Even if you're not comfortable speaking up now, or Monday hits you unexpectedly hard, it's better to 'fess up that your Super Bowl celebrations made you're late. Don't lie, as one-third of workers do, according to CareerBuilder.

Some of the more bizarre excuses for tardiness cited in the survey included gems like "I knocked myself out in the shower," "There was a stranger sleeping in my car," and "Someone robbed the gas station I was at, and I didn't have enough gas to get to another station."

News flash: Your boss isn't buying it, Pinocchio. Especially on Super Bowl Monday. "Typically when you see the more outrageous excuses, it's usually coming from chronic offenders," said Grasz. That's a category you'd rather not be in: 41 percent of companies have fired an employee for being late.

"Definitely, in my book, honesty is the best policy," said Challenger. "[Lying] is not the kind of relationship you want to set up with your boss or company."

This article originally appeared in CNBC.

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