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An employer's guide to tackling the World Cup

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The World Cup has arrived, and with it so has a month of televised football that could act as an omnipresent distraction for employees. Therefore, it is important that you as an employer have plans in place to minimise the World Cup's impact on work place productivity.

The main work place problems related to the World Cup include short-notice requests for annual leave, an increase of absence through 'sickness' and a surge in personal website use during working hours. However, the tournament also offers employers the chance to engage with employees and boost their morale. For more information on these work place issues, read on for an employer's guide to tackling the World Cup.

Avoid dissent by having a plan for dealing with annual leave requests

Although some employees would have thought months in advance about taking time off during the World Cup, many will only have thought about it at the last-minute. So, as excitement around the tournament reaches fever pitch, you should expect a surge in employees asking for annual leave.

Allowing a large number of employees to have leave at the same time will of course affect productivity significantly. Therefore, you will need to have a proactive strategy in place for dealing with the increased number of employees requesting leave.

Flexible working times around match times, for example, will appease those employees who fear missing out on an important game. But it is important not to allow your employees to miss too many working hours, as they will need to make up the time at some point.

Alternatively, you could try and minimise the impact on productivity by encouraging your employees to take only half-days as annual leave. If your business employs workers in evening and early morning shift patterns, relaxing your shift swap policy is a viable solution for dealing with troublesome leave requests.

Escaping the off-side trap with clear internet and social media policies

For football fans caught up in the excitement of the World Cup, websites and social media platforms covering the tournament could provide a distraction away from work.

As a result, you should clearly outline your policy surrounding personal internet use to all employees on the eve of the tournament. If you feel that you need to, you should also provide reminders throughout the tournament to reinforce your expectations on the issue. It is important to note, however, that if you plan to track your employees' internet usage you are legally obliged to tell them under data protection regulations.

Dealing with absenteeism after World Cup matches

Because Brazil runs four hours behind GMT, many World Cup matches will kick-off at 11pm and won't finish until much later. Therefore you may suffer from increased absenteeism because of employees who are unable to recover from a post-match hangover in time for work.

To help combat this potential issue, you could make it clear to all your employees that you will not be paying them for unauthorised sicknesses. As an extra deterrent, you could also make it clear that you plan to conduct return to work interviews for every absence and that all absences must be verified by a Sickness and Absence Self-Certification Form.

If your business does not have a Sickness and Absence policy outlining your stance on unauthorised absences and return to work interviews, the World Cup could provide the perfect opportunity to introduce one. Introducing such a policy at short notice is not easy, but there are template Sickness and Absence Policy documents online that can help you to create one quickly and efficiently.

Use the World Cup to your advantage and boost employee morale

For many, the World Cup is a massive event, so an outright workplace ban on it can serve to be counterproductive by damaging morale. Instead, you could take the chance to embrace it and allow staff to follow and engage with the tournament at work.

The easiest and least intrusive method of doing this is by holding a World Cup sweepstake at work and getting everyone involved. To help, The Daily Record have created this downloadable World Cup sweepstake kit that provides everything you'll need.

If you employ workers during the evening, you could even screen matches at work to ensure they don't miss out. Although you'll need a TV licence to stream or televise any match, regardless of what channel it's being broadcast on.

If you have found this advice useful or have any other useful tips for tackling World Cup-related issues in the work place, please leave your comments below.

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