Time is money. We would like everyone, ourselves included, to work 100 % of the time; but that's just not realistic. Everyone takes, and needs, a break sometimes, whether it be grabbing a cup of tea, talking around the water cooler or checking their email. While our modern workloads do require some means of de-stressing, there is no method more egregious than smoking. We all know some smokers who take every opportunity to bunk off work, six times a day for half an hour each. How much does this add up to? How much is this costing you? How many years of their life are they losing? We present all this information to you in this smoking cost-to-company calculator.
How to use this calculator
To make this calculator easy to use, we have predefined some values. We've given the average time a cigarette break takes as 15 minutes; this includes the time spent walking to and from the smoking area as well as smoking. We have also provided a value for the number of cigarette breaks per day - three. Please note that these values are averages; you can feel free to change them for a particularly severe (or light) smoker. We have also assumed that each employee receives 10 days of holiday a year. This only affects yearly calculations and can be changed by hitting the
advanced mode button. With these values imputed, the calculator is ready to do its magic!
For the average smoker taking three 15 minutes breaks a day, smoking accounts for 45 minutes of not working per day. For an average working week (8 hours, 5 days a week), this totals to 3 ¾ hours. That's nearly 190 hours a year! That's a lot of lost productivity.
We thought it prudent to provide a section that allows you to calculate how much you are paying for these employees to smoke. Just select the period over which you pay them using the
period field, and input the relevant value. We will then calculate the monetary cost of all of this time off. For the average values above, and assuming an hourly wage of $10, you are paying a smoker nearly $1900 a year for their habit! You can change the values for how many hours a day and how many days a week someone works by clicking
advanced mode at the bottom of the calculator.
You will also find a section at the bottom detailing the weekly and yearly cost of smoking, as well as the cost to life expectancy. To find the monetary value, input the price of a packet of 20 cigarettes in your area; for a different number than 20, please change the value in the appropriate field after you have clicked onto
advanced mode. For some counties, the price has already been predefined. The amount of your employee's wage that gets spent on cigarettes while at work will then be calculated. To help people find the total amount they spend on cigarettes, check out our Quit Smoking and Save Calculator. We will also calculate how much someone is shortening their life by smoking at work, assuming that each cigarette costs you 11 minutes.
The aim of this calculator
Here at Omni Calculator, we feel it necessary to stress a few things before we continue. Despite this calculator providing you with hard data of how much time an employee spends smoking, it will not be helpful to use these times to browbeat smokers, as you will see in the following sections. One of the worst things you can do for someone trying to quit smoking is to punish them. Let's imagine you are thinking of quitting, but are worried about how difficult it's going to be. As you are pondering this, your superior comes up to you and berates you for how much time you waste smoking. You wouldn't feel up to the enormous task in front of you anymore, would you?
Instead, this calculator aims to get you to acknowledge the size of the issue so that you are motivated to do something about it. And by something we don't mean firing all of your smokers! We hope that you are also motivated by the desire to help your employees live a healthier life and not solely by regaining that wasted time. If you continue reading, you will find more information on the psychology of addiction and what you can do to help your employees.
Getting people to quit smoking
Both smokers and non-smokers alike know the benefits of quitting smoking. Other than the decrease in the risk of lung cancer, the benefits include saving money, a better sense of smell and taste, an increase in lung capacity and a reduction in the risk of losing teeth. But even though smokers know these benefits, quitting smoking is still one of the hardest things a person can do in their lives. It is generally agreed upon by scientists that nicotines chemical hooks are the strongest that we know of. It takes more than a small amount of willpower to quit.
Let picture a situation. You have just quit and cannot concentrate. The only thought in your head is of a cigarette. You are pleased that you left your cigarettes at home, but are still feeling incredibly anxious as you go through withdrawal. Then you hear your boss barking at you to stop daydreaming and get back to work. You feel defeated, and go and borrow a cigarette off a friend. This attitude is not very conducive to helping someone quit. The stress is likely to drive them back into nicotine's open arms.
Addicts of all sorts need a supportive and loving environment to recover. Take, for example, Rat Park, a series of studies on drug addiction done in the late 1970s. Rats, when left on their own in a cage with nothing but a choice between water and opioids, get terribly addicted to the opioids. Upon observing this, Bruce Alexander had a thought. "Is the addiction due to the innate properties of the opioid, or is it due to the environment?" So Mr. Alexander built Rat Park, a cage that still provided rats with either water or opioids, but also gave them toys, space, and other rats. Mr. Alexander found that, despite being able to freely take the drug, no rats became addicts, taking the drugs only occasionally, if at all. So addiction is not solely based on the drugs chemical properties, but also has an environmental factor. Shunning someone for their addiction is likely to push them further into addiction. Still not convinced? Check out this very informative video by Kurzgesagt.
So what can you do as an employer?
Now that you understand the true nature of addiction, ready below to find some ways to help your employees quit smoking:
Encourage or provide nicotine alternatives
A simple way of getting people not to smoke is to provide them with alternative sources of nicotine, be it through nicotine patches, gum or by some other means. This will keep them at their desks, meaning they do not waste as much time. You can merely encourage your employees to use them, or provide them out of your pocket. Studies have found that a highly motivated 19 % of people can quit smoking using nicotine patches and then slowly decreasing their dosage. However, even though the chemical hook part of addiction is provided for, the majority of people still do not quit. This means that there is more to addiction than the chemical side...
Provide a social framework and be supportive
The opposite of addiction is not sobriety, but connection. When you see the results of this calculator, you may be shocked and annoyed, but let those emotions pass. If you do, you stand the best chance of getting those lost hours back. One of the most significant sources of discomfort in the developed world is being controlled or humiliated at work, with 87 % of people reporting that they are either ambivalent to or hate their job. Other than being a major source of anxiety and depression, these people are not living in Rat Park, and are therefore much more likely to not quit at all, or relapse.
Set up a support network for people. Have people come together and talk when most people smoke; in the morning and after lunch. This will take their mind off their habit, and will help replace the neurotransmitters that a cigarette releases with those that human interaction releases.
Inform employees when a period of minimum stress is coming up
The first month of quitting is the most difficult, so make people aware when a big project is coming up. Project-related stress is likely to cause people to relapse, so let people know when you expect their workload to decrease so that they can prepare accordingly.
Incentivise people to quit
Yes, it is true that there are already so many incentives to quit, from cancer to cost, but these are not working, otherwise people would have already quit. You could use the metrics that this calculator provides, i.e., cost of smoking and cost to life expectancy, as a way of showing people what they can achieve if they quit. You may also find more metrics here. It may also be a good idea to provide non-smokers with a reward for working all those extra days, perhaps by giving them those additional days as a holiday, as a company in Japan did.