The Melbourne Cup yesterday cost the Australian economy up to $1.239 billion in lost productivity, with over half of workers taking a half day off to watch the race.
In a Melbourne Cup survey commissioned by recruitment firm Randstad which polled 889 Australian employees it found over half (54%) take more than 3.5 hours off work in the afternoon on Melbourne Cup day. Randstad then extrapolated these survey figures using official ABS Labour Force statistics which show 11,276,100 full time employees in Australia, earning an average wage of $31.40 per hour, giving a total of $1.239 billion in lost productivity as a result of the Melbourne Cup.
“If our results are representative of Australian businesses, we could be losing over $1bn in the afternoon of the Cup,” according to Randstad CEO Deb Loveridge.
While the survey indicates the Melbourne Cup productivity loss may equate to almost a billion dollars nation-wide, Randstad CEO Deb Loveridge says any negative effects on individual organisations would likely be offset by a boost in staff morale, employee engagement and team-building.
“The Melbourne Cup is one of Australia’s prominent social events – traditionally accompanied by celebratory drinks, a sweepstake and, for over half of Australian workers surveyed, an afternoon off,” Ms Loveridge said.
“While employers should be aware of the Cup’s overall effect on their businesses’ bottom-line, the long-term benefits outweigh the short-term costs. In fact, employers may damage their company culture, reputation and retention if they don’t get involved, such is the passion, excitement and anticipation around the Cup.”
While some employees choose to take the entire day off (12.1%), the survey found that about half (47%) take part in an office-organised event – from sweepstakes to fully catered functions.
Of the various activities that take place on the day, 38 percent of Australian workers enter an office sweepstake, a quarter (25%) attend an office function, while 15% only stop long enough to watch the race before returning to work.
South Australian employees were least enthusiastic about the Melbourne Cup, with over 59 percent of respondents taking just half an hour to watch the cup, then getting straight back to work. Only 23 percent of respondents said their employers co-ordinated a function, and 12 percent claimed they were just too busy to get involved.
Queenslanders were most engaged with the Melbourne Cup, with 40 percent of Queenslanders taking the afternoon off, in addition the state had the highest function rates (33%) and sweepstake participation (36%).