Last Sunday saw the Fifa World Cup 2022 kick off in Qatar. With many matches scheduled to take place during the working day, this year’s tournament poses something of a challenge for employers.
According to research published by bookmaker Paddy Power last week, 47% of the 2,002 football fans surveyed said they intended to pull a sickie at some point during the tournament. Just 3% of respondents had booked annual leave to watch a match that fell during working hours.
Figures from online streaming service Livescore, meanwhile, found that 44% of its 2,000 respondents said the World Cup would take priority ahead of their jobs, while a further 14% said they would put fake meetings in their diaries in order to watch games.
With many employees continuing to work remotely either all or part of the time, approaching this issue can be tricky. If productivity is unaffected, with employees continuing to fulfil all work commitments within the desired timeframe, an employer may choose to turn a blind eye in order to avoid taking a heavy-handed approach and demotivating staff.
Problems may arise, however, if an individual does not perform to expected standards. Reminding staff of policies around sickness absence and unauthorised absence ahead of time, therefore, may be helpful if disciplinary action later becomes necessary.
As with any high-profile sporting event, the World Cup could also present an opportunity to encourage staff bonding and help to motivate and engage employees. Screening matches in the workplace, providing teams to come together remotely to watch games, or holding themed events, for example, can all help to bring employees together.
If doing so, employers should remain sensitive to the fact that not all employees may wish to participate. Qatar’s human rights record, with its approach to homosexuality, and women’s rights, for example, mean many object to the tournament being held there. Ensuring participation in such events is not mandatory, therefore, is crucial if these are to achieve their original aims.
While there will always be some employees that simply do not like or engage with specific sporting tournaments, taking the time to consider the best approach to suit all employees could prove the winning formula.