Friday 13th drags them all out of the woodwork

Will your employees be avoiding work on Friday 13th? No? Well, help is at hand anyway...

by Dave Waller
Last Updated: 25 May 2011
Time to flag up another slightly preposterous press release, this time about the effect that Friday 13th has on work and productivity. It’s from chartered psychologist Graham W Price, who paints an ominous picture of the unlucky day. 'Millions avoid making any arrangements,' he claims. 'Planes fly relatively empty. Investments and business deals are deferred for another day. Some people even refuse to leave the house or go to work.’

Price lumps in such superstition with other forms of ‘magical thinking’, including a belief in fairies, paranormal activity and fanatical religion – all of which are apparently widespread despite being generally unprovable. ‘Track events on Friday 13th and compare the results with any other day and, unsurprisingly, there’s no difference,’ he writes. Now we don’t doubt that one bit. But we can’t help thinking that the term ‘magical thinking’ could just as easily describe his own assertion that, just because of a funny number, planes are flying half-empty all day and no one’s doing any deals. Seriously, come on...

Happily, Price is on hand to offer advice to the thousands of bosses set to find their businesses shot to pieces when all their employees fail to turn up. Hypnotherapy is his starter for ten - which conjures up images of the nation’s managers turning up at their employees’ homes and beating down their doomsday barricades, armed only with a swinging pocket watch and an invitation to ‘look into my eyes’, before herding them into the back of a van and into the office.

His other suggestions include Cognitive Behavioural Techniques, combined with Acceptance-Action Therapy; this involves telling your employees to get in the habit of noticing whenever they buy into the superstition, but recognising it’s irrational, dropping the thought and going into the office, while simply accepting the anxiety. In other words, tell them not to worry about it and to come to work anyway. Follow those steps and, says Price, ‘You’ll have a full quota of staff on Friday’.

Now far be it from us to criticise anyone's beliefs - actually no, forget that, because triskaidekaphobia may be a brilliant word but it's a ridiculous superstition. So we'd like to posit an alternative piece of advice: why not totally ignore all these suggestions? We bet you'll still have a full quota of staff today.

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