18 July 2016
Mixing work with pleasure

Last month saw the European Championships where England managed to leave Europe twice in one week after voting to leave the EU. With Olympics 2016 just around the corner and the hype beginning to escalate, it raises the question of should companies show sporting events in the workplace? Whilst the country rejoices over a win for an England idol, HR teams are left commiserating as them along with employers worry about the knock-on effects this may have in staff attendance.

Major sporting events such as the Olympic Games, Football World Cup or Wimbledon provide entertainment and kitchen banter for many employees who are eager to support their teams. We know the importance of providing employees with work perks to keep them satisfied, but how much does an employer have to bend in order to keep their staff happy?

The main issues that affects both teams during the matches are requests for annual leave, sickness absence along with website usage during working hours. A survey conducted by Reed found that some of the more common staff excuses during sporting periods include catching ‘summer flu’, a sudden dentist appointment or having to attend the funeral of a distant relative that no one has even heard of before.

But the fact is, when it comes to major sporting events, if you are going to acknowledge and allow one to be shown, then you can’t dismiss others that happen throughout the year. Not all your staff are going to be football fanatics – so how do you make it fair? In a multicultural place like the UK, there will be workforces that have different nationalities who may support other countries and are interested in taking time off to watch those games rather than England. It is also important to ensure holidays are granted fairly, otherwise employers could be guilty of sex discrimination.

If there is no system implemented in your workplace for whether staff should be given time off during these national and international occasions, you could find yourself dealing with a loss in productivity.  Workforce Management Expert Neil Pickering wrote about this two years ago when he emphasised the need to plan properly for these sporting events; “Don’t plan to kick off any big, bold initiatives for Monday morning after a big sporting event. Instead, proactively bring up the possibility of absences in the week before and ask that anyone planning a late night let them know now whether they’ll be coming in later or not at all on Monday.”

Well, one solution could be just to ignore the fact that these major sporting events are taking place. Your staff have got work to do and your company has to continue to deliver results, but hosting a large tournament in the workplace could increase work mentality and show your employees that you want to play fair. Each company is different and it is up to the employer to distinguish what decision is right for the business and the people who work in it.



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