World Cup scare stories are well off target as survey finds on-field success can be a real winner for business

The past few weeks have seen a host of scaremongering stories claiming that the World Cup is going to adversely impact productivity and attendance, but a new in-depth study has concluded that sport can in fact be a powerful tool for improved performance.

Far from being a hindrance to productivity, our fascination with sport can generate social and financial benefits at work, said the report from recruitment and consultancy firm Hudson.

Detailed qualitative research was conducted by the Social Issues Research Centre to investigate the role of sport at work, via focus groups and interviews, followed by a quantitative survey of 2,000 employees.

The results found that ‘talking sport’ can forge bonds between employees, bridge gaps between a manager and his team, and make or break a sale.

More than 60% of men and 52% of women believe that when the team they support wins it has an impact on their approach to work, increasing motivation and creating a valuable team spirit.

More than a third of respondents agree that conversations about sport break down boundaries with colleagues, and one in six uses sport to build better networks and affinities with customers.

The World Cup is expected to have a major impact on the world of work, with 70% of men and 62% of women in England expecting that it will boost morale if the national side does well, with one in 10 respondents predicting the event will lift team spirit at work even if the England side does badly.

Only 2% say they will call in sick to watch or recover from games, while 23% say an England win will make them more productive at work.

Following past English football, cricket and rugby victories, a boost in productivity has been reflected in a rise in the stock market, suggesting that English success in this summer’s World Cup will provide a fillip to the UK economy.

John Rose, chief executive of Hudson UK, said: “Large-scale sporting events traditionally have been regarded as a threat to productivity and a trigger for absenteeism. But employers have failed to recognise the potential social and financial benefits that sport can bring to the workplace. Our study shows that sport plays a crucial, yet unofficial, part in creating bonds between colleagues and customers, which has a positive knock-on effect on the bottom line.

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