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Love it or loathe it, it’s nearly upon us – Brazil 2014! Is your workplace match-fit for the World Cup?

Of course not everybody is a fan of ‘the beautiful game’, but the World Cup finals in Brazil, (14 June to 13 July 2014) don’t just have the potential to cause a few workplace headaches, they could also provide an opportunity for increased employee interaction and a welcome morale boost.

Here are some of EEF’s top tips for managing your own squad successfully during the forthcoming football frenzy.

Make sure your players are on board with your game plan

Communicate your intentions clearly - managing expectations in advance will avoid misunderstandings and limit the need to issue yellow, or even red, cards later on.

Confirm any temporary changes in your leave policy, or is it business as usual? This time around the time difference is to our advantage. There is only a 4 hour time difference between Brazil and UK. Most matches are currently scheduled to kick off late afternoon or early evening UK time.

However, it would still be reasonable to anticipate an increase in holiday requests for certain days or shifts which are affected by important games. Remember, whilst even the most optimistic of English fans is unlikely to have pre-booked much leave for the later stages of the knock-outs, you may have a number of different national team allegiances within your workforce.

You might want to consider placing a limit the number of employees allowed to take leave at any one time to ensure operations are not disrupted. If you are going to limit leave approval, confirm in advance how any new requests will be prioritised. Will it be first come first served, or would it be fairer to facilitate a lottery for any available leave? Not all leave requests will be to watch football!

Can you facilitate temporary flexible working arrangements and allow employees to swap shifts with others, or possibly alter their start/finish times, so they can catch key matches?

Who’s on your bench?

You might want to consider lining up extra resources, for example agency workers to plug any potential gaps.

Taking a dive – the sickie …..

Inevitably, some of those who did not think to book leave, or have no leave left to book, may be tempted to take ‘a sickie’. Making false sickness claims, especially if an employee is entitled to contractual sick pay, amounts to a fraud on the company. Remind employees that abuse of your sickness or absence reporting policies are disciplinary offences and will result in disciplinary sanction, potentially dismissal. A policy of holding return to work interviews after every sickness absence is also an effective deterrent to abuse.

Remember, before taking disciplinary action in relation to absence you should always investigate the specific circumstances fully.

Keep your eye on the ball

Will you be allowing employees to watch games in the workplace?

What about access to the internet and social media? The BBC will be streaming matches live. What do your IT and social media policies currently say about the personal use of company equipment? What about employees using their own mobile phones/tablets etc.

Make it clear if/when employees will be allowed to watch games during working time. Will you be restricting access to break times or are you happy to operate a ‘reasonable watch’ policy whereby employees will be allowed to watch games, so long as their workload permits it and it doesn’t impact negatively on business operations. Is it feasible for employees to make up time later if you allow them to watch a game during a shift?

If you are making big screen facilities available for employees to watch games in the workplace, ensure you have an appropriate broadcasting licence for public entertainment.

Remind employees that when demonstrating support for a particular national team, they should not act in such a way as to breach your dignity at work policy. National banter has the potential to stray into the realms of race discrimination and harrassment – so ensure employees are aware that all members of the workforce are entitled to be treated with respect and dignity - no matter who they support.

Injury time - health and safety considerations

If employees watch games with friends prior to the start of their shifts, there might be more than the usual temptation to indulge and join in the carnival atmosphere – maybe with a drink or two. Emphasise that your drugs and alcohol policies remain in force throughout the tournament and there will be no exemptions by virtue of world cup celebrations (or commiserations).

A full list of the World Cup first round games can be found here

How can EEF assist?

If you would like assistance from our team of expert HR consultants in compiling a policy for the effective management of your workforce during key events, such as the World Cup, or exploring strategies for harnessing the potential for improved employee engagement offered by such events, then please email Nicola Kibble or call 07584 173 675.

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Media Team 020 7654 1576

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