Belfast Telegraph

'On the ball' bosses will reap World Cup reward

By Lindsay Fergus

With almost 40% of workers admitting they are planning to be out of the office to cheer on their team when the World Cup kicks off next week, the major sporting event could prove a headache for employers.

Although most responsible employees are hoping to take leave to watch a particular match, 5% conceded they would throw a sickie.

Despite the findings, just half of firms are planning to offer flexible working to staff who want to watch the England games, and less than a fifth intend to provide flexible working patterns for all World Cup matches.

With just nine days until World Cup mania strikes, businesses who have no contingency plans in place could find themselves on the sideline.

Employment experts both in Northern Ireland and Great Britain agree that companies should use the event, which occurs just once every four years, to their advantage.

Innovative businesses will avail of the tournament to boost staff morale and, in turn, productivity.

Such a big, global sporting competition, against a backdrop of one of the worst recessions since the Second World War, can give firms some light relief.

At a time when many firms have had to reduce overheads to survive or remain competitive by taking the difficult decision to axe jobs, scale back hours, freeze pay or even introduce pay cuts, the World Cup could be just what the doctor ordered.

And with the state of the economy continuing to prove a challenge, with many businesses citing difficult trading conditions, increasing morale has never been more important.

Having an action plan in place in the workplace will not only boost employee relations but also mitigate the impact of absences, which could hit the day-to-day running of the firm.

Forward thinking businesses will already have considered options including providing staff with somewhere to watch key games, shift-swapping, flexible hours or accommodating leave requests.

Being on the ball before the first game kicks off means everyone can enjoy the matches, while making sure jobs still get done in the workplace.