The World Cup kicks off in Russia on 14th June 2018 – and along with other major summer sporting fixtures such as Wimbledon, the golf Open, Tour de France and England vs India test cricket, could spark a rise in ‘sporting sickies’.
A survey conducted by Love Energy Savings at the start of Euro 2016 suggested that one in five people would be willing to take a sickie to watch a sporting event and with all eyes on England during the World Cup employers need to prepare.
Adrian Lewis, director at Activ Absence says employers are likely to see an increase in hangovers, unauthorised sickness absence and presenteeism this summer, especially during the month long World Cup.
“The UK is a sporting nation and we really love to get behind our national team or favourite sports person but this can have a negative impact at work. People calling in sick to watch matches during the day can leave the office understaffed, plus those coming into work feeling a little bit worse for wear can mean productivity goes down.
“However employers can minimise the potential disruption of people pulling sickies with a bit of careful planning and ensure it’s business as usual during the summer sporting season. They can even use the sports season to improve employee engagement,”
Adrian offers the following tips to help employers manage staff during major sporting events this summer:
1. Keep an eye on sporting fixtures, even if you aren’t a fan yourself – Be prepared for possible sickies in advance, especially in staff critical environments, such as nursing. It’s harder to get temporary cover during major sporting events or the day after a bank holiday, so plan in advance based on previous experience.
2. Fair play is important in sport – it also extends to fair handling of leave – Decide ahead how you will handle multiple requests for staff holiday, especially during sporting tournaments – if you can’t authorise all of them, could you compromise and let people watch the fixtures at work instead? Make sure that your system is fair and visible, so that staff are aware of it in advance.
3. Make staff aware of your policy on sickness absence and enforce it equally – More than half of employed adults believe their work performance is negatively impacted when attendance policies are not fairly enforced throughout an organisation. Poor motivation leads to absenteeism, so make sure your rules treat management and staff equally. Staff are more likely to respect rules they see apply equally to everyone.
4. Educate your staff – Staff who take sick days to ‘watch the match’ don’t realise that short term absence has a big impact on the company’s bottom line and is actually more disruptive to the business than long term sickness. Raising awareness can encourage them to book planned annual leave days rather than faking a ‘sickie’.
5. Always use return to work forms and interviews – Sporting absenteeism seems to have regular offenders. By having to complete a return to work self-certification form, or experiencing a return to work interview it’s less likely to be brushed under the carpet.
6. Consider using accurate reporting and recording systems – Spreadsheets and paper forms are less than ideal for managing both staff holiday and sickness absence, especially if more than one person is able to authorise leave. Consider investing in absence management software. It’s designed for purpose, prevents leave clashes at line manager level and usually saves more than it costs – it’s also visibly fair!
7. Use sport to motivate staff – Use the sporting season to build teamwork, engagement and motivation at work. For instance hold sports themed team challenges at work, maybe even get two tickets to an event as a prize for the best performers or have themed days in the office during matches/events and show them on TV to encourage attendance.
8. Use sporting enthusiasm to drive wellness – Run an exercise challenge over summer or look out for any team sports a company team could take part in. Sport often promotes more interest in health so have healthy drinks and snacks available at work and see if your local gym will give your staff a free trial.
“The key is to plan and ensure you have the right systems in place to manage absence. While both planned and unplanned absence can be an issue for companies to stay on top off, sporty summers can also be a great opportunity for a bit of fun.
“Encouraging employees to enjoy tournaments together, get involved in sport or just become a bit healthier can be a great way to improve staff engagement and motivation.”