After England’s magnificent 6-1 victory against Panama, this question will be on the lips of many working football fans and is only likely to become more persistent as the World Cup continues.
Employers cannot simply ignore the tournament, so they might as well have a game plan to avoid potential pitfalls and conflict with staff. Even better, they can seize a golden opportunity to meet goals in boosting morale and workplace relationships.
While it is important to keep an eagle eye on any unauthorised absences during the competition, here are some examples of how being flexible may prevent this problem in the first place:
* Consider relaxing company rules on taking leave at short notice or how many staff can be off work at a time to avoid the chaos that multiple unauthorised absences can have.
* Introduce more flexible working hours on important match days so that employees can move their working day to have a late start or an early finish, but still complete their allotted hours.
* Look at allowing workers to swap shifts.
* As it is possible that staff will be more likely to consult social media and use sports news websites during the World Cup, it is important to remind them of any company policies about the use of social media and personal internet use. If your company has a no personal internet use policy, if appropriate, consider waiving it for the duration of the competition.
Be fair and consistent
Do not forget to treat all employees equally and fairly, with any special arrangements given to England fans also offered to fans of different nationalities supporting their teams to avoid discrimination claims. Consider all requests for time off equally and in accordance with company policy.
If faced with an unauthorised absence and the suspicion is that it is related to the World Cup, then it is best that employers do not to jump to any conclusions (even if the absence is the day after an important match). Instead, follow a fair and consistent procedure and oversee a proper full investigation so if disciplinary action is taken it is justified.
Embrace the tournament
Letting staff listen to or watch matches during work hours on the radio, television or online may help stop workers taking matters into their own hands and calling in sick. Employers should make sure their business has a TV licence to cover watching matches in real time on any type of device and other PPL or PRS licenses if the radio is not through headphones, or else they could face a hefty fine if caught without one.
Finally, depending on whether it is appropriate for your type of business, allowing employees to express themselves by relaxing dress codes to allow football shirts on certain days or decorating the office by putting up flags of the countries involved in the tournament, is an easy way to boost morale. In the long-run, using opportunities like this to develop and maintain good workplace relations will ultimately lead to higher levels of productivity, motivation and staff retention.