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12 tips for managing people during the World Cup

The World Cup has officially begun in Qatar and lasts for almost a month. Both Wales and England will be taking part and with football being the national sport of England, and Wales qualifying for the first time since 1958, it comes as no surprise, that there will be many people keen on following the two team’s progress.

With Qatar being three hours ahead of UK time, many matches will be taking place during UK working time. Major sporting events such as this, have the potential to cause some disruption to the workplace. Whether this is employees becoming distracted whilst at work, increased levels of lateness, or even increased sickness absence around the days of key matches. It makes sense therefore that employers embrace this major sporting event by not only overcoming some of these potential challenges, but it can positively impact employee engagement and workplace culture.

What can be accommodated is of course dependent upon the business and the nature of work the employee/employees undertake. Here is our 12-point checklist for how you can practically manage employees’ wishes for following and watching the World Cup, whilst limiting the impact on work performance:

  1. If you currently only offer annual leave in full days, can you extend the policy for this event period so that employees can take annual leave in hours? That way, they only need to take the amount of time off from work to cover the length of the match.
  2. When authorising annual leave, you will most likely have a limit as to how many people can be off at any given time. Again, for the World Cup duration, could you temporarily flex this limit so, therefore, more people can take time off to watch key fixtures?
  3. Can you support short periods of unpaid leave? This will of course need to be managed alongside a request for annual leave so that correct staffing levels can be maintained (even if these are flexed).
  4. Can you support flexible working around the times of key matches? Offering employees to either start earlier or finish later can help them balance work and their wishes to keep up to date with the World Cup.
  5. Consider if what you offer is to be applied only on days when an employee’s home nation is playing, or whether you can offer this support throughout the entire World Cup?
  6. Can you share key matches on TV screens throughout the workplace or in key areas, such as in canteen areas, meeting rooms or even reception areas?
  7. How will you deal with lateness attributed to watching the World Cup? Is there any scope to show a little leeway?
  8. What are your current rules on work-related internet use? If you have rules in place that prohibit it, could you temporarily lift these to allow employees to watch matches in the workplace. In which case, do you need to think about how you will allow your employees time away from their work to do so?
  9. With the World Cup taking place in Qatar, recognise the emotions and feelings that this event can bring because of Qatar’s position on LGBT+ rights. Reiterate your company’s commitment to equality, diversity, and inclusion, but also be mindful that those employees who are of the LGBTQ+ community may not wish to associate themselves with the event.
  10. We will also see England and Wales compete against each other on Tuesday 29 November. Fixtures such as this always bring emotion and excitement, but it is important that this does not spill over into the workplace. Again, remind your workforce of your commitment to equality, diversity, and inclusion so that employees do not feel bullied or harassed by inappropriate treatment from others, even if it is inadvertent.
  11. Consider how you will approach handling any abuse or breach of any informal and temporary rules you bring in as well as breaches of your Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion policy.
  12. Set out in writing your clear intentions for how you will support employees watching the World Cup, setting out your key company policies that are to be reminded. As this is essential to avoid any misunderstandings or disputes or grievances.

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