Today, Team USA lost to Germany in the World Cup, but still advances to the knockout round. Whether the US advances any further remains to be seen, but lots of employees worldwide will continue to follow these matches with interest, including during work hours. Employers will ignore the potential workplace disruption of the World Cup and other summertime distractions at their peril. We know the summertime crunch is one of the peak seasons for unplanned absences – those absences that have the highest impact on workplace productivity.
If you’d like help thinking about how to mitigate the impact of unplanned absences in your organization this summer, read on for our advice about how to balance employees’ need for time off with the demands of your business.
- Implement an absence policy. If you do not have one already, an absence policy to balance employee and employer needs is the first step in addressing the potential problem.
- Communicate the policy. There’s little point in having an absence policy if you do not communicate it to employees. Highlight any specific rules around time-off requests during the World Cup.
- Encourage proactive communications between managers and staff about requests to take time off, or to work a different schedule. Unplanned absences are more expensive to manage than those you know are coming.
- Support flexibility. Consider early starts and early finishes for 5:00 p.m. kick-offs and late starts/late finishes for staff who want to sleep in after a big game. But make sure that you have a system in place to cope with monitoring the flex hours.
- Consider unpaid leave. Planned absence is always easier for a business to manage than unscheduled absence. Accept that staff will find a way to watch key matches – unplanned absence is expected to be high during the World Cup. Offer staff the opportunity to book unpaid leave up to a maximum number of days.
- Make controlling absenteeism a business priority. There’s no excuse not to be in control of absence. Business tools are available to control and monitor absence levels and trends – you can even set the parameters to alert you to all unscheduled absences on match days, or on the morning after a big game.
- Enforce the absence policy. Any absence policy needs to be monitored and enforced consistently and fairly throughout the organization to curb unscheduled absences – more than half of employed adults believe that their work performance is negatively impacted when attendance policies are not fairly enforced.
- Provide incentives for excellent attendance. In large organizations, time and attendance systems are an invaluable tool for tracking and reporting on attendance levels. Many organizations effectively use perfect attendance bonuses as an incentive to reduce absenteeism.
- Be realistic. Rather than hindering staff enthusiasm over the World Cup, go with it – install a TV in the staff room; sit down and enjoy the matches with your staff – and with a bit of luck, you’ll improve staff morale for long after the ref blows the final whistle. The picture above was from the Kronos cafeteria today where the game was on the big screens, and free popcorn was available for all while we enjoyed the game together.
- Make absence management part of your long-term business plan. Managing absenteeism isn’t simply a tactical activity for the duration of the World Cup. Organizations can benefit from a well-designed, consistently monitored absence policy.