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Plan your World Cup campaign now

11th Jun 2010
Editor in Chief AccountingWEB
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With World Cup fever taking hold, now is the time to plan your strategy for dealing with football disruption at work.

Everyone from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to government advisers, small business organisations and HR experts have been warning about the likely impact the four-yearly tournament will have on productivity. A PwC survey, for example, found that one in four employees planned to watch the tournament during working hours.

In addition to the management issues that will arise, IT experts are also worried what will happen to their networks when employees start streaming online football footage on their PCs.

World Cup planning tips

Flexible working – Consider allowing employees to make up spent watching their preferred games.
Communication – Decide your stance and tell employees well ahead of the tournament
Be supportive – Let employees watch games on a work TV or in communal areas (the only England game during work hours will be at 3pm on Wed 29 June). The shared experience could help forge bonds and between colleagues.
Fairness – Not everyone likes football. Consider setting up 'football-free' areas and make sure any temporary changes apply to the entire workforce.

Aside from these motivational issues, IT experts are also worried what will happen to their networks when employees start streaming online football footage on their PCs.

This article pulls together advice from a variety of sources to make sure you and your team remain harmonious and productive – whatever happens to Wayne Rooney, Stephen Gerrard and Fabio Capello in South Africa.

Before going overboard about the situation PwC’s HR services leader Michael Rendell pointed out that only a third of matches will take place during office hours.

England’s matches, which are likely to cause the most disruption, will mostly take place in the evening or at the weekend – with the exception of the Slovenia v England match at 3pm on Wed 23 June. Should England progress, its knock-out round matches will take place at 7.30pm. Two “group of 16” games involving teams such as the Netherlands and Italy and other soccer powerhouses such as Cameroon, Denmark and Paraguay from Groups E and F will take place at 3pm on Mon 28th and Tue 29th of June, and one quarter final on Friday 2 July. For full details, consult the BBC World Cup calendar.

“Employers anticipating a spike in annual leave requests and absenteeism among football fans need to plan for the impact on staffing and productivity,” commented Rendell.  “There is huge goodwill to be gained from accommodating flexible working requests or allowing staff to take a couple of hours out to watch the games. With pay rises scarce and bonus pools down, this is a great way to thank and engage staff while bringing a very tangible opportunity to revisit and communicate flexible-working policies.”

PwC also advised putting screens up in workplaces or encouraging online viewing – subject to network constraints. “In addition to careful planning, fairness is critical – not everyone is interested in football and those who aren’t might appreciate the opportunity to pick up overtime covering for absent colleagues or time off to do charity work,” said Rendell.

In a more detailed contribution on our sister site HRzone.co.uk, Right Hand HR put some other World Cup planning tips:

  • Send a memo to all employees explaining your plans and expectations. Remind them how they can request time off to watch key matches.
  • Implement flexible working practices, so employees can make up the time to watch their preferred games. Allow shift-working employees to swap shifts.
  • Encourage managers to talk openly with staff in advance about the measures being undertaken to allow people to watch matches.
  • Consider temporarily relaxing your rules. Remove any caps on the number of employees allowed to be off at the same time.
  • Remember that employees may be following other nations. Allow them the same flexibility as you allow England supporters.
  • Encourage employees to bring in flags and banners for their teams and, on match days, consider allowing employees to wear their team's shirt.
  • Remember that not everyone will be caught up in World Cup fever. Consider setting up 'football-free' areas. Ensure that any temporary changes to working practices apply to the entire workforce.
  • Explain how any unauthorised absences will be dealt with. Highlight the key points of your absence procedure, who to ring, when to ring and sick pay entitlement. Make it clear that if an employees' sickness links directly to the football fixtures, an investigation may take place and they may be asked to provide a medical certificate to support their absence.
  • Be as flexible as possible in accommodating enthusiasm for the World Cup. Remember, sporting events can bring social and financial benefits to the workplace, forging bonds and bridging gaps between colleagues.

Replies (1)

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By cymraeg_draig
04th Jun 2010 22:24


We have set up a 42" TV (yes its licenced) and we are providing snacks, drinks, for free and simply allowing staff who want to catch the games, whoever is playing, to watch whatewver games they want. We are totally flexible with hours anyway so thats not an issue.

We also made sure the TV can be seen from the patio doors, so anyone wanting to smoke can stand outside, or pull up a garden chair, and watch the games.

What else could I do?  I have no intention of missing them so could hardly expect staff to :)

It's just a pity that England couln't scrape together a decent team to send.

My tip to win - Spain.  Dark horses - dont underestimate the yanks, I think England could get a nasty shock in their opening game.

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