HR Management & Compliance

Getting Your Workforce Through the World Cup

The World Cup is great time for football fans, as spirits soar and games provide plenty of post-match analysis in the staff room. New research, however, suggests the tournament could have a negative impact on UK business, with 53% of UK workers saying they plan to take at least one day off to watch a match during the competition.

Source: Grigorev_Vladimir / iStock Editorial / Getty

The data comes from a survey undertaken by international office suppliers Viking, who questioned 1,679 British workers about their World Cup plans. The UK is likely to lose 23,190,235 working days for World Cup-related absences, at a cost of £2,424,539,069 ($3,173,915,604 as of today) top business.

HR mangers need to be prepared to limit the effects this rise in leave will have on their companies and workforce productivity.

Plan Ahead

The good news is the vast majority of leave taken during the World Cup will be approved absences, in line with company holiday policies. Being able to monitor when leave is booked will enable HR managers to limit any negative effects.

To ensure everyone is clear with holiday policy, it is a good idea to circulate this to your company’s employees—preventing any nasty surprises for workers when they try to request time off. When questioned, 70.8% of people had not been reminded of holiday policy by their company before the World Cup. Taking this small step could prevent frustration amongst your staff.

Be clear on the deadlines in place for making holiday requests, allowing people to plan ahead. Consider whether you are able to be more lenient around the World Cup period. If an employee’s team does better than expected they may wish to book time off at shorter notice than normal to watch a match. If it is possible to grant these requests within your business plan, it may be worth doing so to improve employee morale.

If you know there are likely to be more absences, plan your work around this. In England, for example, 12.9% of employees plan to take time off on 28th June to watch their match against Belgium. Avoid setting deadlines and booking meetings on days like this. Apply the same logic to the day of the World Cup final, which will be played on 15th July. The following day is also likely to be less productive than usual, especially if a team supported by your employees reaches the final. 46% of workers in England said that they would take a sick day after the final if their team won the tournament.

Allow Flexible Working

One way to prevent workers from taking time off is to be more flexible with their hours. With the World Cup taking place in Russia, time differences have meant that many matches fall during working hours.

This is one of the reasons why the World Cup is having more of an impact on industry than domestic football tournaments. Trusting your workers, and allowing them more flexibility, can be an easy solution to keep them working, albeit at slightly altered hours. Late starts, long lunches and early finishes can allow employees to watch the matches they want without taking holiday, provided they make the hours back elsewhere in the working week.

To set up flexible working for the tournament establish core hours during which all employees need to be in the office. Give information on how many hours can be accrued as flexible working, and when the time needs to be worked back by.

Establish an effective way of monitoring the time people take as flexible working hours and make sure that people are following the rules set out.

Football At Work

It is worth having a think about whether your workers need to be away from their desks to tune in to their chosen match. It may seem counter-intuitive to the HR manager but allowing employees to watch or listen to the World Cup at their desks will prevent lost working days. Although you might expect there to be a fall in productivity with games airing in the office, employees disagree.

68.9% of people surveyed felt that being able to watch or listen to World Cup matches during working hours would not have a negative impact on their productivity. Over a third (34%) even went so far as to say that having access to the football whilst at work would boost their productivity.

This prediction may have some merit, as employees may feel more valued when allowed to follow their national team. Screening the World Cup in your office, whether on TV or radio, will reap other rewards as well. Employees will appreciate your trust and understanding, leading to an upturn in motivation, good will and loyalty to your company.

Added bonuses will also include your team enjoying something together, fostering a positive working environment and stronger working relationships.