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3.5 million football fans 'set to pull a sickie'

Helen Mayson

FIFA World Cup 2014

A survey from Ladbrokes suggests that almost one in ten staff could pull a sickie tomorrow after England's game against Uruguay

Almost 3.5million football fans could throw a ‘sickie’ tomorrow, according to Ladbrokes, which will costs firms approximately £350million. England’s crunch World Cup clash and an alcohol price war could lead to a massive hangover and a severe lack of staff in the office, says the betting firm.

Neil Pickering, Director at Kronos, says “the fact that more than one in ten British workers would pull a sickie after tonight’s game should be a cause for concern for business leaders. Sports have a significant impact on attendance at work and with a number of football fans expected to venture to pubs and bars to watch tonight’s match, it’s important that employers, if they haven’t already, take steps to mitigate the risk of employee absence.

Top tips for World Cup success

For businesses, the key is not to see the World Cup as a threat, but as a chance to maximise engagement. The following five tips will help businesses to curb absenteeism and manage productivity during the World Cup:

1. Turn unplanned absences into planned ones

Turn unplanned absences into planned absences. This means creating policies and a company culture that will encourage and support employees for requesting time off beforehand. This gives managers the ability to plan for that absence ahead of time and mitigate some of that productivity loss. For those businesses that already have an absence policy in place, it’s a good time to review it and remind employees what is expected of them and the disciplinary consequences of taking unauthorised leave.

2. Offer flexibility

Organisations should offer flexible work hours when it's feasible. Being an employer of choice often comes down to not necessarily being the employer that pays the most, but the employer that gives employees autonomy and is willing to make accommodations in the form of paid time off, flexible work hours, and working from home where possible. While there’s no legal requirement for employers to give employees time off to watch World Cup matches, a bit of give and take to accommodate employee requests could do a huge amount for morale.

3. Get in on the fun

Rather than accept the high level of absenteeism, employers can positively channel excitement by asking the staff canteen to serve game-day food like hotdogs, pizza or pies. Or they can tap into the excitement of the event by screening matches in the workplace, perhaps by turning conference rooms into screening rooms or allowing the radio on in the background if it’s not too disruptive. Big sporting events provide a connection for colleagues from different teams or departments who might not normally interact with one another to get together in a friendly way. For example, the London Olympics had a great impact on employee collaboration and engagement, so organisations should embrace them.

4. Plan accordingly

Don’t plan to kick off any big, bold initiatives for a morning after a big sporting event, especially if it’s a late event. Instead, pick a more suitable date. It’s also worth bringing up the possibility of absences before any matches, so that businesses can establish who might be planning a late night and may be coming in later the next day.

5. Don’t forget the minority

Remember that not all staff like football and might be annoyed at concessions given to football fans, particularly if they feel that they are left doing the lion’s share of the work. Businesses should be sensitive to the mood of non-football fans or they might face absence problems from the non-football fans in your team!

Neil Pickering, Director, Kronos

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