With the World Cup taking place this summer, we can expect football fervour to grip the nation once again. The excitement that traditionally builds up around the England team – the only representative from our home nations this year – can whip up even the least enthusiastic of fans.

We will have a minimum of three group games – and potentially 4 knock out games – to look forward to. With millions tuning in to watch in homes and pubs up and down the country, we can expect drama and excitement (but hopefully no penalty shoot outs).

In most instances, the day after an England game is a working day. So how can organisations support employees whilst maintain the smooth running of a business?  

What might happen during the World Cup?

For an extreme example, the NFL’s Super Bowl Sunday — a sporting occasion of similar magnitude to the World Cup in the US — offers us a source of comparison. A Kronos survey found that 16.5 million people said they would not go into work on the Monday after the Super Bowl.  What HR departments need to consider is that under two thirds (63%) of those were actually booking time off in advance.

It’s these unplanned absences which can be most disruptive for organisations. Productivity will certainly take a nosedive if several of the workforce call in sick on the same day. So, with another big sporting spectacle this summer, employers need to explore ways to provide employees with flexibility to enjoy the occasion while managing the needs of the business.  

How can organisations prepare?

There are several steps companies can take to make the World Cup an enjoyable experience all round:

  1. Whilst acknowledging that you understand the significance of the event and are willing to embrace the spirit of the occasion, you need to clearly communicate that any annual leave should be booked in advance and agreed with their line manager according to your company guidelines.
  2. You could consider following in the footsteps of American company, Draft Kings. They declared the day after the Super Bowl an official company holiday. While this might not be a viable option for some employers, there are other company-wide options such as later starting times that could be adopted. And if employees are required to work in the evenings, showing the match on TV in the background, or playing the commentary on the radio might be a great morale boost for your team.
  3. Consider adopting flexible working practices. Could your employees fulfill their duties effectively from home, or watch the match and make up the time another day? It might be that somebody in the office is less inspired by the World Cup and would be willing to swap shifts with a colleague so it’s win-win for employee and employer alike.
  4. Have the right tools in place to monitor any fluctuations in staffing levels so you can react accordingly. Being able to see how many employees are taking time off to watch the World Cup, will help you judge the impact it might have on your business and allow you to respond accordingly. And remember, there’s always a chance that England might progress all the way through the competition, so there might be an additional 4 games to take into consideration.

These are just a few examples of positives steps you can take before kick-off to net a great result for your business and its employees. By embracing the spirit of this international event, the opportunity is there to turn a potential negative, from a productivity perspective, into a morale boosting win.