thanksgiving data workforce
December 5, 2018

What Effect Did Thanksgiving Have on Work? Data From the Workforce

By Richard Whitehead | Director of Operations, Product & Technology at Workfront


Ever wonder what effect Thanksgiving has on work?

At Workfront we’re constantly analyzing work management data to best help our customers optimize their workday. With this data on hand for their company, Workfront customers can better engage with team members wherever they are and better understand when and how each team member works best.

To see a small sample of the insights we provide, here’s a snapshot of customer activity based on logins in the United States during the week of Thanksgiving.

  • Monday, November 19 — Logins are 8% higher than Monday the previous week, likely indicating that people are getting as much work done as possible before the break.

  • Tuesday, November 20 — Work is starting to wind down as logins are 6% lower than Monday. Time to get the car packed to head to Grandma's house.

  • Wednesday, November 21 — People are dreaming of turkey and football. Logins decline by 20% from Tuesday, and people head home early. Logins peak at 11:00 a.m. and quickly nose dive. Need to get on the road before everyone else does.

    Here’s a graph of Wednesday’s activity, from midnight to midnight:

    wednesdays activity midnight to midnight


  • Thursday, November 22 — Turkey Day! Pretty quiet around work. Logins drop to the lowest of the week as only 13% of the people that logged in on Monday log in on Thanksgiving. Who are these crazy people? Well, most of them are enterprise customers in the professional services industry. Oh, and of course customers that ensure the nation has football to watch on TV.

  • Friday, November 23 — Hungover from too much food, logins are still 80% lower than on Monday.

Here’s what the week looked like in graph form:

thanksgiving week in graph form

The weekend (November 24th and 25th) looks pretty normal for logins and then everyone hits it hard again on Monday the 26th with logins matching Monday the 12th.

How does Thanksgiving affect the rest of the world?

While there is nowhere near the drop-off we see in the US, there is still an effect:

  • Logins show the same increase on Monday the 19th from the 12th.
  • Overall logins on Thanksgiving day for ROW is 10% lower than the week before

Interestingly, this US holiday does in fact have an effect on work beyond the US.

What can companies do with these insights to engage their employees?

One idea might be to change your expectations for key metrics and KPIs during this time so that you can have an accurate sense of what will happen during the holiday. By getting your expectations right, you’ll allow your team members to not spend their holiday stressed out, enabling them to return to work fully refreshed and ready to go.

You might use this data to help team members understand what’s going on across the organization. As we found in our State of Work report, 61% of knowledge workers say they have a clear sense of their own priorities but their fellow team members’ work is a mystery. By opening up this data to your team, you can reveal what’s actually happening across your company. In short, use this data to understand how your teams are working and how to keep them happy.

What else would you do with the data? Let us know on Twitter.

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