FIFA World Cup: 5 top HR tips for a winning absence strategy

In the run up to the FIFA World Cup 2022, it’s easy to forget that increased staff absences can cause havoc in your business. So, we’ve devised a winning game plan to set your business up for a successful tournament…

Tuesday, Nov 15, 2022
3 min read

Do you hear those boots stomping? The FIFA World Cup 2022 arrives on the 20th November, and people all over the world are gearing up to get involved…

And although the worldwide sporting event might be fantastic for team morale, you need to be extra wary of staff skipping work to celebrate the tournament.

Because according to a 2021 study, unplanned staff absence costs the UK economy an estimated £20 billion every year*. And since this year’s World Cup is hosted by Qatar in a different time zone, some staff are likely to stay up to catch the game, or take a day off to enjoy a midday match. For you, that could mean they’re even more likely to miss work than most other years.

So, how do you make sure your business runs smoothly, despite the potential disruptions? Here are five top HR tips for a winning absence strategy…

1. Have a solid game plan

If you haven’t already, work out exactly what behaviour you expect from staff over the FIFA World Cup, and let them know before the tournament starts.

Will you be a harsh ref and blow the whistle at the mere mention of football? Or will you be showing every match in the staffroom?

What about letting your team follow games on the internet? If you stop staff from watching completely you risk upsetting your team, or having them break rules behind your back.

But if you do allow employees to tune in, how will you make sure they don’t spend their workdays glued to the sports channel, live-tweeting every dodgy foul?

You could restrict their internet access to breaks only, or let them listen but not watch—whatever you decide, make sure your boundaries are clear and your staff are informed in writing.

2. Look out for red card behaviour

For starters, you’ll probably need to keep an eye on increased alcohol consumption. Some staff might turn up hungover, but others could take it a step further and indulge in a disastrous liquid lunch.

To avoid this, remind your staff that their contracts include a zero-tolerance policy on alcohol. And do it before the tournament kicks off, to set expectations early.

Competition could also stir up tension. Different team members might support different countries—so make sure your staff know you have a zero-tolerance policy on bullying and harassment, too. If not, you could leave your company open to damaging claims of constructive dismissal or discrimination.

Watch out for bad behaviour, and ensure you have robust HR policies and documents in place to deal with any mishaps.

3. Keep an eye on the subs bench

With this year’s FIFA World Cup in Qatar, your staff could carry evening game celebrations through the night and show up to work late, or even miss it entirely.

So, keep an eye on who’s calling in sick, and when. You might want to make a list of matches that you think will be important to your staff, and keep a record of attendance for that day and the following day.

Because keeping a written record of incidents will help you spot patterns, and make sure you’re not jumping to conclusions. And, if it unfortunately comes to it, you’ll have evidence to support your reasons for disciplining a staff member.

4. Remind your team of time out

If your staff are planning an all-night footy marathon or merry match celebrations with friends, remind them that they have the option to take annual leave.

Because when time off is planned, it gives you and the rest of the team time to shift responsibilities and manage additional tasks smoothly. Otherwise, you could quickly be left short-staffed and overstretched.

Also, if your company doesn’t allow employees to carry annual leave into the next year, this is a great opportunity to remind your team to book time off—before their holidays go to waste!

Just remember that not everyone enjoys the football, so you must make sure you stick to your usual method for managing annual leave.

If not, your business could face complaints of favouritism that lower team morale and cause a drop in staff productivity.

5. Have a strong absence strategy

Above all, your business needs a reliable process for managing sickness, lateness and absence.

Because with all the excitement of the World Cup coming during an already busy period (Christmas is on its way!), you can’t afford to slow your business down with clunky spreadsheets or dog-eared paper processes.

You need smart online attendance software from BrightHR.

Use it to track staff attendance from your mobile, see full downloadable reports that help identify harmful absence trends, and know exactly who’s available before you assign them to a shift.

And that’s just the warm-up. Find out more about how BrightHR’s powerful software transforms your absence management and much more.

References: Bdaily, 2021, 55% of businesses don't know the cost of absence [online], Bdaily.co.uk [Accessed 10 November 2022]

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