Do you feel that World Cup fever is affecting your workplace?

On top of the general business surrounding the in-coming festive season this year the world cup has been thrown into the mix. Now that England is through we thought it might be useful to give you a few HR tips to help balance employees’ interest with the needs of the business and maybe buy a decent slice of goodwill at the same time. 

Planning ahead


Decide how to deal with additional holiday requests. Your normal policy is probably based on a first come first served basis, but how do you deal with holiday requests at other times of high demand, like Christmas? Do you ask employees to take turns? Be guided by your existing policies but do also consider how you can relax them, for example by requiring less notice than usual, if it doesn’t impact on work.


Being flexible might reduce both holiday requests and absenteeism. Could employees start early or leave late if there’s a match on? Could they take a late lunch or swap a shift with a colleague instead of taking holiday? As well as ensuring productivity doesn’t dip during the tournament, this might generate goodwill with your staff if they think you are trying to accommodate them.

Watching at work

All businesses are different so decide how far you are prepared to go to accommodate match watching. Can staff watch matches during breaks on existing screens in a canteen or meeting room? You might allow radio commentary or let staff follow scores on work computers or their own devices. Can they go off site to watch as long as they make up the time the next day? Whatever you decide, be clear with staff about what is and isn’t acceptable.

Potential yellow cards 

Internet, social media and devices

What about employees who want to watch the match but don’t want to take annual leave or make up the time? Most are able to stream matches to their phones or get updated scores in real time on the internet. If you have an IT policy already which governs the use of devices and social media then remind staff about those rules. If not, decide on appropriate rules and communicate them to staff.

Sickness absence

There is an increased temptation to ‘pull a sicky’ during major sporting events, either to watch a match or recover from one. You should deal with sickness absence in the usual way during the tournament. Remind staff about your absence reporting procedures and return to work interviews. This might act as a deterrent but also ensure that matters are dealt with consistently. 

Potential red cards

Discrimination and harassment

Remember that not everyone in your workplace will support England. Avoid any potential arguments about unfairness by applying the same rules about time off to people who support different nations.

Also be aware of the potential effect of “friendly banter” if people are watching the matches at work. What one employee considers a jokey comment might upset or insult another employee, especially if someone is making comments about people or players from different nations. Make it clear to employees at the outset that they are expected to behave in an appropriate way during work hours.


  • Work out what rules will apply and communicate them clearly to ALL staff.
  • Remind staff about existing policies regarding use of IT, absence and potential disciplinary matters.
  • Deal with all requests for time off or flexible hours on a fair and consistent basis to ensure no particular groups are disadvantaged.
  • Be as flexible as possible if it doesn’t affect the business.