Who’s The Real Time Thief?

It’s that time of year when stories like this one about March Madness-related “time theft” bubble up to the surface (get it? like teams on the bubble? anyone?) They all bemoan the incalculable dollar amount, which dozens of studies nonetheless claim to calculate, lost to employees watching basketball instead of working.

While seemingly innocuous, these estimates indicate March Madness results in up to $13.8 billion in lost revenue annually due to lower employee productivity.

There are, no doubt, situations where this is a concern. Restaurant workers watching their brackets go all to hell while customers are waiting surely happens from time to time. But many of these articles aren’t about them. They tend to focus on salaried “knowledge workers” who are expected to be working 40 (read: 50) hours per week regardless of how many hours their work actually requires. Our take on these situations, and the subject of an upcoming episode of The Busyness Paradox podcast: if your employees are doing what you pay them to do in a week and you’re furious that they didn’t do more because they were watching basketball, you’re the time thief.

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