How to manage the FIFA World Cup at work

June 20, 2018

How to manage the FIFA World Cup at workImage by SPF / Shutterstock, Inc

Some employers celebrate the FIFA World Cup at work. Other employers ban it outright – after all, it’s distracting, and not everybody wants to get caught up in football fever. But which path is the right one to take?

First, let’s consider a few statistics:

Nearly half of England fans plan to call in sick if England wins the world cup

A recent survey by Viking found that 46% of England fans said they would call in sick in order to celebrate if England won the world cup. But it isn’t just after-match celebrations that are likely to be affected – Viking’s survey of 1,679 people also revealed:

  • 40% admitted that they’d bunked off work before for a sporting event
  • 10% plan to be off work on the 24th June to watch England play Panama
  • 12% plan to be off work on the 28th June to watch England play Belgium

And 16.4% of respondents said that while they wouldn’t pull a sickie if England won the world cup, they would not get much done at work the following day.

How to improve spirits and reduce absence during the FIFA World Cup

If you’re worried about employees calling in sick, holiday planners getting jammed, and having to stop people sneakily gathering around their mobile phones to watch the games, then there are a few things you can do:

  1. Celebrate the World Cup at work the morning after
  2. Lock important dates against holiday requests
  3. Show the game at work if possible
  4. Encourage employees to book holiday early
  5. Track absence carefully to identify problem trends

I’m going to explain these four ideas now in a little more detail.

1. Celebrating the World Cup at work the morning after

If Viking’s research is accurate, then the biggest problem employers face, is employees calling in sick to celebrate victory. This is sometimes because football fans may have a hangover the morning after. But sometimes, it is because they just want to relax and absorb the feeling of an exciting win!

You can help encourage more employees to turn into work, by putting on your own celebrations the following day. Offer everybody a hot breakfast and free coffee the morning after a major game, and give them a bit of leeway to discuss the previous day’s excitement.

You can announce this in advance – and even execute the plan regardless of which team wins. After all, a hot breakfast with friends is a great way to heal the wounds of defeat, as well as to nurse the bruises of a victory hangover.

2. Locking important days against holiday requests

If an important World Cup game falls on an important date in your company’s diary, you could consider locking that date against holiday requests. But use this option very carefully.

What I mean by this, is you shouldn’t simply be locking down days because you hate football and you want everybody to be at work to make you feel better about it. But if, for example, you have an important event and you need a full house… you could block this date out in your holiday planner.

People® lets you lock holidays against requests, which you can learn how to do on our help site here. But be aware that this may make some employees more likely to call in sick – so if possible, see if you can show the game at work.

3. Showing the game at work if possible

If you’re able – i.e. you have the licence to show live TV, and your working environment won’t be too disrupted – then you should seriously consider showing major football games at the office.

Showing the game at work if possible

You don’t need to do this in a way that forces it onto people who don’t like football. You don’t even necessarily need to play sound – it could just be a screen in one corner of the room.

At our office, we have a dedicated area where the football is shown. Of course, not everybody can sit and watch the entire match… but they know they can pop in and out to keep an eye on the score.

4. Encouraging employees to book holidays early

If employees really want to book holidays to cover key games, encourage them to do so in advance. This will help you plan rotas and shift patterns to ensure all duties are covered, which will prevent employees who want to take time off from experiencing disappointment when their holiday request is not approved.

Claire Porciani, Senior Manager HR Operations UK & Ireland at Viking, says: “It’s surprising just how many people plan to take time off for the World Cup. Hopefully, England will do fantastically, but we definitely advise letting your manager know as soon as possible if you plan on booking holiday so this can be approved and organised, meaning you can celebrate without worry!”

Viking is a leading supplier of office stationary, established in 1960, and employing more than 1,300 people in the UK.

5. Tracking absence carefully to identify problem trends

Even if you’re encouraging employees to book holidays in advance. Even if you’re showing the games at work. Even if you’re offering celebratory breakfasts the morning after… you’re probably still going to get a few more sick calls than normal.

If you haven’t tracked absence before, now might be the push you need to start. And you might want to consider using the Bradford Factor, to help you identify problem trends.

And to learn more about measuring absence, you should read my article, “Alternatives to Bradford Factor for Measuring Absence”. I talk about how the Bradford Factor can help your business, as well as the other absence measurement equations you can use alongside the Bradford Factor.

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