June 6, 2014

Workers likely to pull sickies for World Cup, research reveals

The World Cup is fast approaching and, as we all know in HR, absenteeism will probably increase – with fans staying up late to watch the live games.

There’s will also be lot of hangovers at work after celebrations or commiserations.

New research from YouGov for Wolters Kluwer has revealed that one in four 25-34 year old men said they may take an unauthorised absence from work for next month’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

13% of UK workers are tempted to pull sickies for any England games that clash with work if bosses do not give them the option of watching it on TV at work or more flexible working hours.

But employees who call in sick at this time may face disciplinary action – with 118 employers saying they would take action if they found out that employees took unauthorised absences.

Only 20% of employers would let employees make arrangements for the World Cup, 54% would not do and around a quarter hadn’t thought about it.

Absence is always a concern for employers for major events like Wimbledon, the Olympics or World Cup.

But rather than worry about employees calling in sick on match days, employers considering temporarily relaxing the rules might actually be highly beneficial to a business in terms of worker loyalty.

Employee engagement is a key focus for many HR directors and business owners and events like the World Cup is an opportunity to create a sense of community and connectivity in the workplace. Cracking down on fans and being too rigid was a bad idea and could lead to complaints on social media.

While you shouldn’t abandon key tasks at work, you should manage the situation enough so that you don’t get any social media complaints – this could damage your employer brand, especially depending on the age of your workforce.

It’s not the time to institute draconian measures and clamp down on the fun.

Remember, UK workforces are now more diverse than ever so other nationalities will probably want to watch their own teams – it’s important not to discriminate.

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About the author

Stuart Clough

Stuart (MCIPR) is a trained journalist, writer and marketer with ten years' experience in B2B, public sector and employee communications. A former marketing consultant and agency client-lead, Stuart is responsible for communications and content at Moorepay.