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Plan ahead: The World Cup is coming!

Over the past few weeks we have marveled at the ability of individuals to somersault on the ice, and ski at great speeds down icy slopes. As the memory of the Winter Olympics fades it is time to turn our thoughts to another great sporting event of 2014 – the World Cup.

Although the World Cup is still three months away (it starts on 12 June) now is the time to start addressing any staffing issues that might arise, so that your employees are clear about what time they might be allowed off to watch those crucial matches. You need to have a clear policy in place so that football fans are not aggrieved, and football haters do not feel that they are being ‘put upon’.

When you have thought about the points identified here you might find it useful to have team meetings with your employees to discuss the issues, and to ensure that there is a common understanding about what is and is not acceptable during the Cup.

i. Booking time off

Some of your employees might have already booked time off during the World Cup. Set a deadline for all holiday requests during the World Cup period, so that you have time to balance out the requests and your work needs.

ii. Swapping shifts

You need to decide now whether you will allow employees to swap shifts so that they can watch key matches if their team progress through the competition. If you do allow employees to swap shifts make clear if you are placing any restrictions on this (for example, will you only allow an employee to swap with someone of the same grade?). Also make it clear whether the swap must have the prior approval of the line manager, and explain to employees how they must record the swap.

iii. Restrictions on viewing matches in the workplace

Many of your employees are likely to use a computer as part of their daily work, which means that they could be viewing a match when they are supposed to be working. Clarify what will be allowed, and also explain any penalties that will be imposed if employees breach your rules. Your employees might argue that having a television on in the background will not be a distraction – but it could be very irritating for those who do not want to watch football.

iv. Managing absence

Think now about how you will manage a sudden surge of absence on the day that England (or any other team that most of your staff support) has a crucial match. It will not be possible to insist that employees get a fit note from their doctor for just one day of absence, but you do need to emphasise that you will take action if absence looks suspicious.

v. Celebrations

Enjoying the World Cup could be a great team experience for your employees. If none of the team are adverse to the football why not encourage a team activity of watching a match together, or having a World Cup themed party? Although the Cup could cause some people management difficulties, it could also be used as an opportunity to create a stronger team.

We all want the football enthusiasts in the workplace to enjoy the World Cup. With some forward planning, and by ensuring that everyone understands the company rules, the time can pass without incident.

Kathy Daniels is HR Adviser’s Editor-in-Chief and runs her own consultancy business. She is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and the Higher Education Academy. Before she started her own consultancy, she was a Senior HR Manager in the manufacturing sector. She was introduced to the demands of employment law whilst working as a practitioner and now writes and lectures extensively about employment law, as well as providing consultancy advice.

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