World Cup fever: How to make it work for you

by Janie Smith04 Jun 2014
The Fifa World Cup is fast approaching and as we in HR know from past experience, sick leave and absenteeism are likely to increase as fans stay up late to watch the live games.

There’s also likely to be more than one sore head in the office after a night of celebrating, or commiserating.

And it won’t just be the Aussie fans in the office following the tournament, sometimes using office technology – many workplaces will have football followers from some of the other nations represented in the competition.

But it’s not the time to institute draconian measures and clamp down on fun, according to Randstad strategic account director Mike Roddy.

“If employers embrace it [the World Cup], they can build a real sense of collaboration and spirit. In the last couple of years particularly, every employer is talking about diversity and the intent behind it is to create a multi-cultural, multi-generational workforce where you foster innovation and productivity.

“Why not, when you have this melting pot of different cultures and backgrounds, embrace an event such as the World Cup? It has such interest and it can really drive a great level of connectivity amongst the workforce.”

He said employers should accept that at least part of their workforce would be following the tournament and a way to mitigate sick leave and absenteeism due to watching late games was to provide some flexibility around working hours.

“Ensure that deadlines can still be met, but allow that flexibility. Be a bit on the front foot with people. Realise that they’ll celebrate. If it’s feasible, where you’re not customer-facing or it’s not a rostered business, you can possibly allow people to come in a bit later. If it’s a 7am game, why not put on a breakfast and have a bit of a World Cup celebration at work?”

He said employee engagement was a key focus for many HR directors and business owners and events like the World Cup were an opportunity to create a sense of community and connectivity in the workplace.

Cracking down on fans and being too rigid was a bad idea and could lead to complaints on social media, said Roddy.

“You shouldn’t abandon key tasks at work, but manage work enough that you don’t have complaints on social media because it can damage your employer brand, especially depending on the age of your workforce.”

Australia’s group matches (Australian EST)
  • 14 June v Chile, 7am
  • 19 June v Netherlands, 2am
  • 24 June v Spain, 2am
All round 16 and quarter-final matches start at either  2am or 6am and the semi-finals and play-off for third place each start at 6am. The final will be on 14 July at 5am.

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