Here’s how to contribute to the eclipse’s expected $694 million in workplace productivity losses

The locally based seafood chain is encouraging people to enjoy hush puppies with the eclipse. | Courtesy of Long John Silver’s

When workers stop to look up into the sky for the solar eclipse on Monday, they are expected to collectively cost their employers $694 million in workplace productivity, according to a recently released report from Challenger, Gray and Christmas.

That number is based on 20 minutes of inactivity and estimates of how many people will work that day. States and metro areas directly in the path of the eclipse, which includes Kentucky, could see nearly $200 million in total lost productivity, the report states.

Local restaurants and bars (several of the bar specials are highlighted here) are taking advantage of the phenomenon and looking to contribute to the decline in workplace productivity with specials and events. Others are simply using the unique celestial event to promote their products.

Louisville-based seafood chain Long John Silver’s, for instance, is encouraging consumers to grab an order of hush puppies to eat while they watch the eclipse. The company also was giving away a limited edition #hushpuppyeclipse T-shirt; unfortunately, the deadline to get one has passed.

Pizza Hut, which is owned by locally based Yum Brands, released a video showing consumers how the pizza chain’s pizza box can be transformed into the perfect eclipse viewer.

American restaurant Bubba’s 33 in Clarksville will offer its Sunshine Burger, a burger with an egg and bacon, on special. The burger will be sold for half off on Monday. Louisville-based Texas Roadhouse owns Bubba’s 33.

Several local establishments are trying to draw in the lunch crowd.

HopCat on Bardstown Road is hosting a “once-in-a-lifetime Hop Side of the Moon happy hour” from 1 p.m. to well into the night, extending its typical happy hour. During the happy hour, HopCat offers $5 off any burger or pizza and $1.50 off 30 draft beers, wines and well drinks. Customers will be able to access the restaurant’s rooftop bar but will have to bring their own eclipse glasses.

Baxter Jack’s, on Baxter Avenue, is inviting people to set up chairs on their outdoor volleyball courts or sit on the deck to view the eclipse. Ward 426, which sits across the street, will have lunch specials, and Baxter Jack’s will be open at 11:30 a.m. People will need to bring their own glasses and are asked to RSVP to the event.

Out in Buckner, Sisters Tea Parlor & Boutique is hosting a special tea service just for the event. For $25, guests receive eclipse viewing glasses and “a proper tea service,” with snacks and unlimited tea, as well as be able to listen to a lecture and ask questions of members of the Louisville Astronomy Society. The society also will bring a solar telescope for customers to view the eclipse through. Seating is limited and reservations are required.

At least one organization, however, is hoping to turn the event into something productive. The Oldham Chamber & Economic Development is hosting a networking lunch from 1 to 3 p.m.

“Are you stuck going to work during the Solar Eclipse? Use that time to make some new connections and enjoy the solar eclipse,” the event page states. The event already is sold out, so it seems like there were plenty of people looking for a good excuse to get out of the office to watch the eclipse.

While the lose of productivity is generally a bad thing in business, Challenger, Gray & Christmas said preventing employees from watching the eclipse could cause a bigger problem — a hit to morale — and said employers should try not to “keep employees locked up” during the event.

“Rather, looking for how to turn this lack of productivity into a way to increase morale and strengthen the team is a much better use of the eclipse,” Andrew Challenger, vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said in the news release about the report.

“Since this is happening over the lunch hours, the financial impact is minimal. It offers a great opportunity to boost morale. Employers could offer lunch to their staff, give instructions on how to make viewing devices, and watch together as a team,” he added.