World Cup: Employers’ fears over productivity are unfounded

Anxiety that the World Cup will dent business productivity over the next month is largely unfounded, according to figures published today by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).

More than half of the 687 employers (54%) polled admitted they were panicking at the thought of their employees being distracted by online coverage of the World Cup, while two in five suspected employees will take unauthorised time off to watch games.

While these fears are not surprising given the countless – and often tenuous – stories about the potential impact of this summer’s tournament on employers, it seems this anxiety is largely unfounded.

Those predicting a spike in skiving should perhaps give their employees more credit, the CMI said. Only 1% of those polled would consider calling in sick to watch an important match. When questioned, 60% of employees also say that work comes first, no matter how their football team is faring, and the vast majority of workers (93%) said if their team crashed out of the tournament, it wouldn’t affect their work as it’s ‘only a game’.

Ruth Spellman, chief executive of CMI, insisted the World Cup should not negatively impact business performance.

“In fact, leaders could be missing a trick by dwelling on fears of coping with empty offices all summer,” she said. “We’re convinced it offers some fantastic opportunities to address some of the issues that have plagued UK organisations since the downturn struck – things like waning morale, insecurity and a lack of engagement.”

More encouragingly, 44% of employers see the morale-boosting potential of the tournament and more than one-third (36%) believe it could improve working relationships. One-quarter think it could provide opportunities to better engage employees with their business, but employers will need to be proactive if they want to turn the tournament to their advantage.

David Sims, professor of organisational behaviour at Cass Business School, said employees who are fully engaged are likely to be even more alert during the World Cup.

World Cup: Need to know

What should employers being doing to prepare for the World Cup tournament, and what are the key HR and workplace issues they need to be aware of? We have collated all relevant content from Personnel Today, XpertHR and beyond on one dedicated World Cup page.

“Employers who bring screens in to let their staff watch key games are likely to be regarded by people working harder and more effectively for the other six hours of the day. There will also be the bonding experience of watching a game with others who you may not know yet but you have seen around, as you find they share interests with you,” he said.

“Informal conversations will lead to the formation of new informal networks, shared feelings and greater sympathy; all of these are likely to make the organisation more effective. In short, poor companies where employees are treated as indentured wage slaves will lose, and good companies where employees are engaged will gain.”

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