How to avoid a World Cup own goal this summer!

Lizzie Buxton

Written By Lizzie Buxton

19th June 2018

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While we won’t often admit it, many of us have thrown a sickie at some point in our working life. 

Claiming to be unwell, faking a doctor’s appointment or inventing a family emergency to blag a day off work may not be professional behaviour, but it is common.And with the World Cup now underway, businesses are justifiably concerned about a potential rise in unauthorised absences as staff stay home to watch the games.

unauthrorised absences

A recent survey conducted by found that, on average, football fans expect to take 4 days of unauthorised absence during the tournament this year, which could cost UK businesses in excess of £13bn.

The research also revealed that in 2014, 68% of people took time off work to watch a World Cup match, with 41% getting into trouble for it.

So how can businesses keep employees in formation while the football is on?

1. Screen games in the office.

If you’re concerned about World Cup presenteeism – where employees are technically at work but not productive because they’re distracted keeping up with the scores – then why not offer to screen big matches? By turning the occasion into a social event you can boost team dynamics and increase morale, while staff are more likely to feel motivated when back at their desks after the final whistle is blown.

2. Offer small incentives for staff to stay.

If you think staff may be tempted to skip work because they’ve had a late night watching a big game, then offering a free breakfast the next day could help ensure they’re back at their desk in the morning ready to go.

3. Provide flexible working.

The earliest weekday games kick off at 1pm, so consider offering employees the option to start earlier than usual or catch up time on evenings when their favourite team isn’t playing.

4. Keep holiday allocation fair.

You’re likely to have to deal with an increase in requests for time off during the tournament, but it’s important that you continue as usual with your holiday policy and don’t let everybody take the same time off. If your policy is first come first served, make sure you stick to it no matter whose team is playing.

5. Monitor behaviour to spot trends.

As with normal sickness data, it’s vital that you’re keeping track of when employees are absent, so you can spot individual issues and wider patterns and respond quickly.

Events like the World Cup are an opportunity for people of all backgrounds and nationalities to come together and celebrate the highs and lows of sport, but they are also a time when employers face increased staff absences and less productive workforce’s. Putting in place the right approaches can help ensure that employees remain motivated throughout the tournament and reduce the rate of absence, thus avoiding costly and reputation-damaging tribunals.

If you’d like to find out how you can monitor and respond to absence trends and avoid scoring an HR own goal this summer, download our guide:

Download Guide

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