The FIFA World Cup 2014, the world’s biggest sporting event, started in Brazil on June 12 and will be watched by over 800 million viewers every day on television until the grand finale on July 13. Since the matches are usually held during the day, employees in companies located in the Americas and Western Europe will find that their work hours may overlap with crucial games involving their favorite teams, while millions across Asia and Australia will get to view matches late in the evening, or at night.
However, “World Cup flu” is one thing that many companies won’t be able to avoid. Inevitably, many employers will have to deal with employees’ time-off requests and absences, with the attendant productivity loss. What can they do about it, and how?
Work with the World Cup
Some companies, in the spirit of the games, have set up large screen TVs or projectors in employee cafeterias and recreation rooms for employees to view matches. Other companies boost employees’ morale (and discourage absenteeism) by setting up football-themed events or organized matches for their employees.
Be flexible with employees
Managers must inform their teams if they are going to be able to provide some flexibility in working hours, possibly permitting them to work from home, or allowing them to view matches online while at their workplace. Employees would certainly be grateful if employers could show some latitude—such as allowing them to reschedule work around certain games, or permit them to listen to live radio or online broadcasts. Employees must also be asked to apply for time off in advance, so that unscheduled absences do not disrupt projects and affect productivity.
Be fair with employees
HR departments may have to decline time off requests if too many employees have applied for it, and must do so in a transparent, impartial manner. Similarly, some employees may show up to work worse for wear after celebrating the previous night’s match too heartily, and HR policies regarding such behavior will need to be fairly applied, with appropriate warnings given to habitual offenders. And, in workplaces with people from various nations, managers must be alert to discourage and stop any appearance of bullying or heckling those who support their country’s team.
Adopt modern time and attendance tracking
Management and HR teams at companies around the world would be well advised to put into place cloud-based time and attendance tracking systems that help mitigate the consequences of unplanned absenteeism, amended flex-time arrangements, and changes in project deadlines, while being cognizant of and compliant with work-from-home policies, relevant labor regulations, and other factors affecting their geographically dispersed workforce.
This “flu” only comes around once every four years, so have fun watching some exciting football/soccer, and be sure to find an appropriate way to let your employees cheer for their favorite teams!