The 2018 FIFA Russia World Cup starts this week and, across the world, employers are likely to be nervous. The event is associated with declines in productivity and sharp increases in absenteeism. In past World Cups, surveys in the Netherlands and the UK showed that on national match days, up to a fifth of employees didn't show up.
South Africa is also likely to see an increase in absenteeism during the event, says Portia Mahlalela, who heads Alexander Forbes' unit for health consultancy.
Employers can protect themselves against productivity losses in various ways, but should also use this period to show goodwill towards staff, she adds.
We have this competition at work where you pick a country (random) if my team loose severely, I win. Or if they do decent, I win. My only incentive to watch the World Cup ??— amaal (@amaal_omj) June 12, 2018
It’s the perfect game for sore losers like myself. You win money if your team has the dirtiest player, the team who scores the most, the losers, and there’s a couple more I forgot— amaal (@amaal_omj) June 12, 2018
We are having our own World Cup tournament at work which means picking no countries and then making mascots and playing games such as human table football. The winners of the whole tournament will win a inflatable trophy!— PieMinisterGirl (@PieMinisterGirl) June 6, 2018
Allow for flexible working hours – especially for the days after late-night games. Make sure that employees are aware that they need to take and coordinate annual leave during this time well in advance.
If your company does experience a high incidence of absenteeism during this period, company processes would need to be applied, Mahlalela adds.
It is important to communicate clearly expectations of teams that mainly work offsite, like sales employees, to mitigate absences and reduced productivity.
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