June 8, 2016

Managing absence in a summer of sport

Sporting tournaments engage the nation in a rare sense of communal endeavour, with football – the country’s most-supported sport – generating the most interest.

Bunting will be hung, songs will be sung.

And while this is a (mostly) regular occurrence for England, this summer will see three of the four home nations competing, meaning 92% of Brits (sorry Scotland) will have skin in the game.

This is the first time since 1986 that three of the home nations will be appearing together at a major championship.

And there has only been one time when all four appeared together – the 1958 World Cup held in Sweden.

Of course, back then the population was 51m, compared to the 64.6m today.

For UK business this means that, in all likelihood, Euro 2016 will see the largest workforce ever to have an interest in a major sporting tournament.

And of course with the internet and smartphones, they will have the largest and most varied means of watching the games in the history of sport.

So how do employers manage absence during this summer of sport?

Work together with your employees

Flexibility is the key objective, and make sure you adopt a fair and consistent approach when managing such situations.

Ultimately, having a productive and committed workforce is the overall goal for business and these events, however positive they can be, will test the employer/employee relationship to the max unless managed effectively.

Annual Leave – communicate expectations

Communicate and reiterate the company’s annual leave policy, and advise employees to give as much notice as possible so you can manage requests effectively.

Sickness Absence – monitor and stay consistent

Continue to manage sickness absence as you would at any other time of the year.

Be consistent, and follow this checklist:

  • Ensure all absences are recorded
  • Monitor absence patterns
  • Treat all employees the same by following your absence management policy
  • If necessary hold an investigation and dependant upon the outcome follow the disciplinary procedure.

Social networking and web-use will spike

There will also see increased internet activity during this period.

Once again adopting a flexible approach and revisiting your internet and social medial policy will help manage this situation effectively.

Flexibility will help manage absence…

Having a flexible approach may prevent excessive holiday requests, or even sickness absences.

Employers may want to consider shift swaps, or allow staff to take their breaks at match times. Allowing staff to listen to the radio – or even watch TV where practicable – may be another solution.

…But not when it comes to being under the influence or drinking alcohol in the workplace

This is probably the only area we would encourage you not be flexible about.

Maintain a zero tolerance attitude and use the company’s policies and procedures to effectively manage these incidents. Ensure your employees know that anyone found to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol in the workplace may face disciplinary proceedings.

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About the author

Stephen Johnson

Stephen has over 25 years experience in private sector HR and management roles, working as a Manager for over 10 years and eventually moving into the financial services industry. In his current role as an HR Policy Review Consultant he develops, reviews and maintains our clients’ employment documentation. With extensive knowledge of management initiatives and HR disciplines Stephen is commercially focused and supports clients in delivering their business objectives whilst minimising the risk of litigation.