Olympic fever: Dealing with the sports-related sickie

by Miklos Bolza15 Aug 2016
With the Olympics in full swing, HR professionals are more likely to have to deal with the effects of increased absenteeism amongst the workforce.
In fact, 87% of Australian HR managers say at least one employee will call in sick the day after a big sporting event, according to a new study by Robert Half.
The survey, which collected responses from 100 HR managers in Australia and 1,575 worldwide, found that workers in Australia together with New Zealand were more likely to take time off after sporting events than in any other country.
While there were concerns about this increased level of absenteeism, around four in ten HR managers said hosting company events around major sporting competitions actually increased employee engagement and/or motivation levels.
“While watching sports during business hours can impact a company’s workplace productivity, organisations increasingly understand the added value of such events,” said David Jones, senior managing director at Robert Half Asia-Pacific.
“Having an engaged and motivated workforce that recognises the importance of team spirit can have a significant influence on achieving business goals which ultimately impacts a company’s bottom line in a positive way.”
These types of international sporting competitions are also a great way for firms to show flexibility towards employees, he said, which could then position the company as an employer of choice.
Unfortunately, issues such as time zones can play havoc with sleep patterns and staff productivity for Aussie workers during prolonged events such as the Olympics.
To combat this, employers can schedule in times during working hours to watch a particular event, Jones said. Then once the game is over, it should be back to business as usual.
“Being able to watch the games during working hours allows the employee to break away from the norm, which can reduce stress levels, boost team dynamic and ultimately has a positive effect on productivity,” he told HC.
However, he warned that too much of a good thing can be a distraction for staff and can ultimately impact a company’s bottom line.
“It’s important for managers to find a good balance,” he said.
Related stories:
Four things HR can learn from the sporting world
Why you should hire an Olympian
HR lessons from Olympian Steven Bradbury


  • by BillFotsch 15/08/2016 11:26:26 PM

    If work was as engaging as the Olympics, there would be no problem, right? Companies like Southwest Airlines, Capital One and BHP Billiton, (clients of mine), treat their employees like trusted business partners, enabling them to make more money for their company and themselves. They see profits and engagement soar. These Forbes and HBR articles provides more background: http://www.forbes.com/sites/fotschcase/2016/05/31/engage-your-employees-in-making-money/; https://hbr.org/2015/12/treat-employees-like-business-owners
    Minneapolis based Carlson Travel is a great example, as can be seen in their 3 minute call center video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RJAEHPOxPQ

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