How to tackle the big match

When England play Argentina on Friday, employers will be looking for the
best way to manage staff desperate to watch the game

Many UK employers are taking the issue of World Cup absenteeism seriously,
with more than half planning to tackle the problem by allowing their staff to
watch England games at work, according to a fish4jobs survey.

The study reveals that almost a fifth of employees have flexitime
arrangements in place allowing them to take time off work to watch the World

A total of 12 per cent of staff plan to listen to the tournament on the
radio at work and 5per cent of staff intend to work from home.

Jon Clark, human capital consultant at Deloitte and Touche, believes
flexitime is the best solution for many employers because it allows football
fans to watch the games but does not impose the World Cup on other staff.

However, Jonathan Turpin, CEO of fish4jobs, thinks it is in employers’
interests to enable staff to watch important England games.

"Many employers recognise the World Cup as an opportunity to create a
feelgood factor within the workplace. Our study reveals employers providing
flexible working arrangements and opportunities to watch the games on TV are
less likely to experience unauthorised absenteeism during the World Cup."

Burgess Hill-based Capital International HR Solutions is one of many firms
that has decided to allow staff to watch important games at work.

Capital staff will have access to the company’s wall-mounted television
screen whenever there is a televised match and the firm will even provide
breakfast for those early birds wanting to watch dawn broadcasts.

Karen Silk, CEO of Capital International explained the firm’s approach:
"What do we get back from staff you might ask? Well, a happy workforce
that is not booking days off during the World Cup. It also brings an element of
fun and competitiveness into the workplace, which supports our company

Although many employers are taking action to enable staff to watch the
games, few have drawn-up formal policies.

Three-quarters of the 100 FTSE 500 HR directors, surveyed by Deloitte and
Touche, do not have official employee policies for watching the tournament.

More than 90 per cent of the HR directors report they would not allow
employees who had watched games in a pub to return to work if they had been
drinking, but five per cent would turn a blind eye if employees had only had
one or two drinks.

"HR directors should not forget that football and drinking can go
hand-in-hand. All should have alcohol and drug policies in place, giving clear
guidance on how to manage this situation, linked to health and safety in
particular," said Clark.

Studies show employers who are not planning to provide staff access to TVs
in the workplace or flexitime arrangements to enable them to watch important
games will suffer high levels of absenteeism during the tournament.

Nearly a third of the 700 staff surveyed by fish4jobs report that their
employer has made no provision for them to watch the World Cup and, as a
result, 14 per cent are thinking about calling in sick to watch key games.

According to the survey, more than three-quarters of employees think it is
acceptable to call in sick during the World Cup.

Figures revealed by the Deloitte and Touche survey paint a similar picture
with almost a third of employees intending to follow World Cup games illicitly,
via the internet or radio.

The study reveals that 64 per cent of the 500 staff polled are planning to
watch games broadcast during work hours.

Research by predicts that across the UK almost 1.4 million men
aged between 21 and 44 plan to call in sick on Friday when England play
Argentina, with the cost to business estimated at £128.8m.

How HR can handle the World Cup

– Remind employees that requests for holiday during the
tournament should be made as soon as soon as possible

– Make sure you know when matches are being played, especially
popular ones

– Be firm but flexible – where possible, tell staff you are
happy for them to work flexible hours to enable them to watch vital England
matches as long as they make up the time

– Consider screening popular matches

– For games kicking off around midday, suggest staff take a
long lunch and make up time at the end of the day

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