Surviving 2018's FIFA Fever

Thursday June 21, 2018

Love it or hate it, there's no ignoring the way World Cup fever grips the UK every 4 years. You might not immediately see how a football tournament affects your business. After all, everyone understands that there's work to be done, right? Well, see how far that thinking carries you when half your staff calls in with FIFA Flu on a critical match day. A quarter of UK employers have staffing trouble during big-time sporting events, from flat-out absences to sharp drops in productivity. Whatever line of work you're in, you need a strategy to guide you safely through.

The first thing you'll want to do is make sure everyone understands what's expected of them. We're not talking about cracking the whip here. Just explain the rules and deadlines you've got in place. It's no fun getting flooded with last-minute demands for leave from employees, for one thing.  Make a point of going through their options for arranged days off or flexible hours. Depending on how the match times shake out as things move forward, you might also have to press home how unhelpful it is for people to come to work hung over – or to come back from lunch still drunk!

Of course, you might simply be thinking that your staff already get all this – and maybe they do. The thing is, do you want to risk it, just for the sake of not having The Talk before the problem arises? You don't have to treat your employees like children. Just remind them of what they agreed to when they signed up, and what they can expect to happen if they fall short of the mark.

That last part's important, too. If someone breaks the rules, you need to be ready to respond in a measured way. Snap decisions are an easy way to find yourself slapped with an employment tribunal, for instance. At the same time, you might need to show a few teeth once in a while so you don't get taken advantage of. Just remember that a little leeway can often kill a minor issue before it has time to become an actual problem. Again, allowing some flexi-time or renegotiating rotas might be a strong step in the right direction here. Just make sure you've got people where they need to be at all times, particularly if your business needs to be constantly available to customers or suppliers. Even setting a decent-sized TV up in the office to watch matches on could be a workable compromise, assuming it doesn't end up too much of a distraction.

If your workforce has football on the brain, your smartest move might actually be to lean into it. Arrange a pool in the office to keep everyone engaged. Depending on your business, you could consider offering World Cup-related rewards for hitting targets and so on.  If you've got clients coming in, remember that they might prefer to be watching the match too. Why not offer to let them do that at your office – perhaps with some basic catering provided?

Basically, just try to think practically about this. Whether you're a football fan or not, you need to understand how much the Beautiful Game means to so many in the UK. Don't fight the FIFA fever – embrace it and use that enthusiasm in a positive way.

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