There’s one singular day that has the propensity to instill dread into even the most level-headed of employees. No, not the annual review – Friday 13th. Today!
Known for being the unluckiest day of the year, Friday 13th has begun affecting our workplaces and sapping our productivity.
This friggatriskaidekaphobia – a fear of Friday 13th – costs organizations an estimated $900 million every time it rolls around – all because staff refuse to go into work or even leave their homes.
Companies in the catering, hospitality and transport industries in particular get hit on this dreaded day as people shy away from going out for meals, planning events, getting married or taking flights. But the effect extends into all companies and workplaces as staff avoid business travel, taking big decisions and in some cases turning up for work at all. (Let us at this point pity the New York man who feared the 13th so much he decided to stay in bed, only to tumble six floors to his death as his apartment building collapsed.)
So, is this fear well-founded, or pure superstition? Whilst many stories detail grisly murders and deaths unfolding on Friday 13th, many more tell of specific business-related disasters that have left companies reeling.
Tech giant IMB suffered a major irretrievable data loss on Friday 13th of 19XX, thanks to the now infamous Jerusalem virus.
In Tuscany, 2012, the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia capsized, killing 32 people and knocking over one fifth off the company’s share price.
In Wales, UK, the long-held belief that Friday in itself is a wholly unlucky day is so strong that the many local miners actually refuse to start new work at the close of the week.
China’s GDP fell to a three year low on Friday 13th July 2012, which in turn sparked an economic slowdown. And if all that’s not enough, the FTSE100 has reportedly closed lower on several Friday 13th in the past five years.
So, what can HR do to calm the nerves of anxious employees today? A study by ADAA, found that one of the best ways to ease stress and panic in the office is encouraging staff to eat well and sleep more. Failing that, HR leaders should suggest an afflicted worker talk to family or friends, or approach a medical or mental health professional.
Presumably a friggatriskaidekaphobia specialist.