Unless you have been hiding under a shell, it will have been impossible to ignore the World Cup 2014 and the increasing excitement that has been building as a result. An employer can view the World Cup as a headache or they can see it as an opportunity to boost morale within their firm, if they deal with it correctly. Don’t score an own goal!

Here are our top 8 tips for creating a winning team for the World Cup:

  1. What time’s kick off?

Due to the time difference with Brazil, some matches are starting at 5pm (including an England match!). Most employees will still be working or do not finish until this time. Employers could use this to their advantage and generate a significant amount of goodwill amongst its employees. An employer may wish to introduce a period of flexible working during the World Cup, for example earlier starts so that an employee can leave earlier (subject to the needs of the business) or allow an employee to build flexi time during the World Cup.

  1. Staying fit

During the World Cup, some employees may be absent due to illness and this illness may coincide with an important game in the World Cup. Employers should not over react, it is possible that the employees are genuinely ill. An employer should keep a close eye on any absences but it should also apply a uniform approach in accordance with its sickness absence procedures.

  1. Post match recovery

Some matches do not start until 11pm which means they will not finish until around 1am. It is therefore possible that some employees’ might be turning up to work late and/or feeling the ill-effects of the night before. This could have a negative impact on productivity.  If you have introduced a flexible working system during the World Cup then this may alleviate some of the time-keeping problems. However a prudent employer, although wishing to be amenable to the World Cup, should still set clear limits to its employees; under no circumstances will intoxication or the after effects of intoxication be tolerated in the work place. Any breach will result in disciplinary action being taken. An employer may also wish to encourage an employee to take annual leave if they are not in a fit state to work.

  1. Turned off by the beautiful game?

Crucially, an employer must remember to treat everyone the same. Some people will have no interest in the World Cup and that’s ok. People who put in holiday requests for example should all be dealt with in the same way; priority shouldn’t be given to football fans.

  1. Give discrimination the boot

With the excitement of the World Cup, banter is going to be rife amongst supporters, whatever their nationality or sex. Whilst this is all well and good and will serve to encourage good relationships between employees, an employer should ensure that such banter does not go too far. Remind your employees about the behaviour that is expected of them and remind them of your equal opportunities policy. If a claim is made of harassment and discrimination, an employer should take it seriously.

  1. Keep your eye on the ball

With the wonderful world of the internet, an employee will now be able to watch the matches live from their computer. An employer will need to consider whether or not to allow its employees to watch the matches. If so, set limits. Make it clear that this permission does not allow an employee to take advantage of the goodwill of the employer by watching every match (especially during the group stages). Employees should also be reminded that excessive internet usage during working hours may result in disciplinary action.

  1. Remember, there’s still all to play for

As with point 5 above, an employer should remember that just because people live in England that does not mean they will support England. Therefore once England are out of the World Cup, the World Cup will still be in people’s minds. Remember, other  matches will still be played therefore some individuals may wish to take time out to support teams other than England. Employers should treat everyone the same.

  1. Don’t lose the dressing room

Dealt with correctly, the World Cup can be a positive opportunity for employers to build a bond with its staff creating an atmosphere of team spirit. Be flexible but within clearly communicated boundaries.

If in doubt, simply remember the key principle of refereeing – maintain a fair balance between the opposing sides of the Company’s interests verses the employee’s enjoyment of the beautiful game.