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The Impact of the Football World Cup on Employee Absence

Posted by FirstCare on 10/06/14 14:42
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The Football Word Cup is nearly upon us and, as with most major sporting events, theories abound as to the impact it will have on absence levels.

Traditional perceptions are that absence increases considerably and research by Canada Life Group Insurance certainly suggests this to be the case, indicating that 8% of employees will take an unnecessary period of absence in order to watch the World Cup. You can read more about their research here.

In our role as Absence Management specialists, working with some of the largest Public and Private sector organisations in the UK, FirstCare have recorded more than 9,000,000 days of absence and so are in an ideal position to look at absence trends during the Football World Cups.

Looking at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa (June to July) the average employee in the UK lost 1.25 days during this two month period. During the non-World Cup years of 2011 to 2013, during the same June to July period, the average days lost per employee was 1.33, showing that there is negligible difference between World Cup and Non-World Cup years. If anything, absence levels during a World Cup are slightly lower.

Graph---football

This is because many organisations have successfully adopted a proactive approach to major international sporting events, choosing to embrace the excitement and discussions that such events create through allowing flexible working patterns, organising staff competitions and even linking the event into existing health and wellbeing agendas.

However, if an organisation does have concerns that absence may increase during the World Cup, there are two particular dates of interest; these are the second England match on Tuesday 24th of June at 5:00pm against Costa Rica and, if England are successful in making it through to the next round, a possible match at 9:00pm on Sunday the 29th of June. For these dates, and the duration of the tournament as a whole, the following considerations may help:

  • Turn unplanned absence into planned absence by proactively asking staff if they would like any annual leave during the World Cup.
  • If possible, or practical, consider the impact of rescheduling any major projects or initiatives until after the World Cup has finished.
  • Be open to discussing and agreeing flexible working patterns.
  • Leverage the excitement generated by the event through workplace activities, such as match screenings, sweepstakes, sport/fitness linked competitions and quizzes.

Through initiatives such as the above an organisation can hopefully minimise the impact of the World Cup on its day-to-day operations while simultaneously capitalising on the inevitable excitement the World Cup will generate.

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