With World Cup at fever pitch, particularly after England’s euphoric win on Sunday, employers should consider taking steps to minimise the impact of the World Cup and other key sporting events on their business. Two of the main concerns are employees’ productivity and conduct.

Work is just for work

As much as employers are entitled to expect employees to ‘work’ in the workplace, and devote all of their time to ‘work’ during their working day, the majority of employers will find it difficult to avoid football being part of work over the next few weeks.

Whether it’s attending games in person, dissecting the previous day’s match or checking scores on phones, all of these things take an employee away from doing ‘work’.

Many non-sports-fans also show an avid interest in national teams during world events. Technological advancements mean that employees can watch matches on mobile phones, tablets and desktop internet browsers during the working day.

Employers should be proactive instead of reactive to deal with the situation.

Managing match madness

The World Cup takes place between Thursday 14 June and Sunday 15 July 2018, and kick off times in the UK vary between 1pm and 8pm.

Forward planning is key. We have set out some suggestions:

  1. Gauge interest in any forthcoming sporting event by holding team meetings and analysing the possible impact on the business
  2. Create a communal area in which sporting events are televised. This can encourage staff to take a designated break away from their work stations to watch a particular match/game
  3. Encourage staff to take days off (business needs permitting) instead of coming to work to avoid productivity being below the required standard and riddled with distractions
  4. Draw attention to company policies so that staff are aware of the relevant policies and procedures in place to tackle unexplained lateness and absences, including sickness absence
  5. Remind employees of social media policies relating to usage in the workplace in advance of any sporting fixtures. Activity on social media and/or networking sites such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook increases significantly as individuals are active in exercising their views and disappointment/euphoria over certain results
  6. Allow temporary flexible working, for example allowing staff to come into work early and leave early to watch a big sporting fixtures
  7. Remind staff of alcohol and drug policies. Significant sporting events and fixtures can result in employees drinking whilst watching matches, resulting in possible working under the influence of alcohol, or being caught drinking during working hours. It may be suitable in certain industry sectors to impose a no alcohol policy during certain events.

ACAS has released helpful guidance to help employers prepare for potential issues that can arise over the World Cup period. These are also relevant to all sporting fixtures which attract a large following. They are available here: www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=2953

Dates of upcoming sporting fixtures

  • 14 June-15 July: Football – World Cup, Russia
  • 2-15 July: Tennis – Wimbledon
  • 7-29 July: Cycling – Tour de France
  • 8 July: Formula 1 – British Grand Prix, Silverstone
  • 19-22 July: Golf – The Open, Carnoustie
  • 21 July-5 August: Hockey – Women’s World Cup, London
  • 1-5 August: Cricket – England v India Test series starts at Edgbaston
  • 1-12 August: European Sports Championships, Glasgow and Berlin
  • 28-30 September: Golf – Ryder Cup, Le Golf National, Paris
  • 3-14 November: Cricket – Women’s World Twenty20, West Indies

Smaller businesses are expected to be worst hit with drop off in productivity and/or commitment. Whilst the World Cup is an exciting event for football fans and the nation, businesses need to be alive to the measures that they can take to ensure sustainability of their businesses during this socially busy time.