The World Cup starts very shortly and is likely to have some impact on many businesses. A bit of planning and forethought will help you manage it with minimal disruption and even using it as an opportunity to boost employee morale and store up some goodwill for the future.
Time off for games
World Cups usually come with increased demand for time off, although this time many of the matches are after standard office hours, which may reduce this. Obviously employees are not entitled to time off for the football, and all your normal policies continue to apply, however a planned absence is easier to manage than an unplanned one so actually it might be sensible to agree time off where at all possible, even if it’s time that has to be made up later.
If you have lots of demand for holiday and cannot agree all requests, be careful that decisions on holiday requests are made on a non-discriminatory basis. Granting requests to men, for example, or to England fans rather than fans of other teams, could leave you vulnerable to a discrimination claim.
Unplanned absence can increase during major sports events and should be tightly managed using your usual absence policy and procedures. Phoning in sick to watch the football or being too hung-over are not acceptable, neither is turning up to work in an intoxicated state. Reminding employees of their obligations and the consequences of failing to meet those obligations, including disciplinary action, is a good idea.
On this occasion, with a combination of afternoon and evening games, it may be partially a case of unplanned absence to watch games, and partially about reduced productivity or phoning in sick the following day, so keep an eye out for that.
What about having the television on at work?
This can work well, but make sure you are clear with employees about behaviour expectations. Things can get heated and employees must understand that aggressive, abusive or similar behaviour are unacceptable, including derogatory comments about the opposing team relating to their nationality.
If you do choose to allow staff to watch at work, also bear in mind the impact on staff who are not interested and make sure they are not negatively affected.
Advance planning and doing your best to be flexible within reason, while being absolutely clear about expectations should reduce the impact of the World Cup on your business, but if you’d like further guidance, do get in touch.