World Cup 2014: six winning tactics for employers

World Cup 2014: Six tips for employers to tackle football fever at work
Rio de Janeiro's Maracano stadium. Photo: REX/Robin Utrecht/Action Press

The 2014 World Cup kicks off in Brazil on 12 June, with 63 matches being played before the competition’s final on 13 July. While the timing of the games means that most of the football will not be played during normal office hours, employers nevertheless need to plan ahead to minimise disruption.

While the impact may be less than in previous tournaments for employers that operate on a 9-to-5 basis, employers that require staff to work in the evenings may have to deal with absence issues and distracted employees. Some matches kick off at 5pm UK time, including England’s final group match against Costa Rica on Tuesday 24 June.

England’s World Cup matches

Group stage – definite games
Sat 14 June 11:00pm – England v Italy
Thu 19 June 8:00pm – Uruguay v England
Tue 24 June 5:00pm – Costa Rica v England

Second stage – dependent on success
If England win their group…
Sun 29 June 9:00pm – Last 16
Sat 5 July 9:00pm – Quarter-final
Wed 9 July 9:00pm – Semi-final
Sat 12 July 9:00pm – Third place play-off
Sun 13 July 8:00pm – Final

If England are group runners-up…
Sat 28 June 9:00pm – Last 16
Fri 4 July 9:00pm – Quarter-final
Tue 8 July 9:00pm – Semi-final
Sat 12 July 9:00pm – Third place play-off
Sun 13 July 8:00pm – Final

Visit FIFA for full details. All times are BST

Other matches take place later in the evening, including some 11pm starts, which could have knock-on effects on attendance and productivity the following day.

Avoid problems arising in relation to this year’s competition by following our World Cup tips for employers.

1. Plan for competing World Cup holiday requests

Employers may find themselves having to deal with a number of competing requests for annual leave. If they can’t accommodate everyone, they need to ensure that they deal with the requests fairly and consistently, and manage employees’ expectations as to whether or not they will get the time off.

2. Allow employees to follow matches during working hours

The World Cup presents employers with an opportunity to increase engagement by recognising that allowing staff to follow matches during working hours will be very important to some employees and should introduce some flexibility to allow this, where possible. For example, employers could choose to screen key matches in the workplace.

3. Deter employees from calling in sick when they are not ill

If the nature of the business means that employers can’t accommodate requests for annual leave, or allow employees to follow matches at work, they might be worried that employees will call in sick rather than miss an important match. Employers could consider putting in place measures to monitor absence, to deter employees from calling in sick unless they are genuinely ill.

4. Avoid problems caused by excessive internet use

If a large number of employees stream a match to their desktops all at the same time, there could be an effect on the employer’s network, as well as on general productivity levels. Employers should make clear their policy on internet use, whether or not they decide to relax this in relation to the football, and should keep an eye out for excessive use.

5. Beware of the risk of discrimination

Of course, many employees will have no interest at all in the World Cup, and not all employees who are passionate followers of their national team will be supporting England. Employers need to make sure that no particular groups are disadvantaged by their policies during the World Cup – for example, in the way they handle requests for time off or flexible working to watch matches. Employers also need to take steps to prevent behaviour that could amount to harassment.

6. Make sure employees know what is expected of them

To avoid issues such as misconduct, absenteeism and harassment, employers need to make sure that employees are aware of the rules in advance of the tournament. A sporting events policy, or a memo circulated to staff, could cover annual leave requests, internet use, absence monitoring and a range of other points, to ensure that employees know what special measures are in place.

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