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The World Cup Challenge – how to keep employees motivated at work during the summer of sport

Written by Simon Morgan, HR Dept South East London and North Kent.

Love it or loathe it, it’s almost possible to ignore the fact the football World Cup kicks off for a whole month on Thursday 14 June, with Wimbledon, the US Open and the Tour de France hot on its heels. A fantastic period to bring the nation together, it can present some challenges for employers through higher sick absence, reduced productivity, and even potentially discriminatory comments and behaviour. But, if handled right, the summer of sport can actually present a great opportunity to increase employee morale and loyalty. Read our top tips to find out how.

1. Get on the front foot

Whether or not you’re a sports fan, the chances are that some of your employees will be. Keep a calendar of major sporting events so that you can identify well in advance when one is likely to impact on your business and plan accordingly.

2. Communicate your expectations

Be very clear to your employees about any changes to usual working practices that you’re going to allow, and what your expectations are. For example, you may be happy for them to watch the game in a pre-booked conference room with their colleagues, but you don’t want them streaming it to their own computer.

3. Monitor behaviour

You want to be seen as a fair employer, but you don’t want employees to take advantage of you. Ensure that you record sick absences and keep on top of return to work certification and interviews to help you to identify and manage suspect ones.

4. Consider flexible working

This won’t work for every business, but if flexible working is a possibility, the World Cup may be a good time to allow it. If an employee is going to be distracted during a game regardless of whether or not they’re at their desk, why not let them have time off to watch the game on the understanding that they’ll make up the hours?

5. Don’t overlook non-sport fans

Not everyone will be interested in watching the game, but that doesn’t mean that they should lose out on what will generally be seen as a perk. If they offer to hold the fort while everyone else is in front of the TV, think about what they might get in return – some time off in lieu, for example.

6. Don’t ignore harassment

Good-natured banter about sport teams is one thing, but be careful that this doesn’t become offensive. Whether it stems from a sporting event or not, harassment should be dealt with through your usual disciplinary process.

7. Use it as an opportunity to connect with colleagues

A big sporting event is a great excuse for a company social. It doesn’t have to be a financial blow-out, but get colleagues chatting to each other by holding a themed social – even something simple like strawberries and cream one lunchtime at the start of Wimbledon can be an effective way to bring people together.

For more information on how your can use the summer of sport to motivate your employees, or for advice on any other HR issue, please contact Simon Morgan, The HR Dept (South East London & North Kent). [email protected]. Tel 0345 634 9154.