EMPLOYERS should plan now to tackle staff absences during the World Cup .
Julie Sykes, of Shepley-based human resources agency JCS HR, warned workers will want to leave early or book time off to watch England – and may fail to turn up for work the following day if they celebrated too hard.
But she added: “With the economy showing some slight signs of recovery, this is the worst time for employers to find themselves dealing with increased costs or failing to meet customer demands as a result of staff absence.”
Her warning comes as a survey by gaming website Betfair suggested that over two-thirds of football fans will call in sick to watch crucial World Cup games on television.
With England set to meet Slovenia in a group match during regular working hours, factory and office productivity could hit rock bottom on Wednesday, June 26, it claimed.
Some 68% of 2,011 UK adults polled said they would consider skipping work to watch the matches.
Julie said there were lots of ways for bosses to minimise and manage the impact of World Cup fever among their workers, adding: “Looked at positively, this could even provide an opportunity to improve morale, motivation and customer relationships.”
She said employers should review their business commitments for June and July and what they mean in terms of staffing levels.
They should make soccer-mad staff aware that time off to watch matches would have to be managed to ensure that the business – and their workmates – did not suffer.
Julie suggested providing a list of match dates to help employees plan – readily available from the FIFA World Cup website – and consider whether or not staff could be allowed some temporary flexibility in working hours.
She said: “Employers may face complaints from employees who aren’t football fans – or who don’t support England – about giving preferential treatment to a particular group of staff.
“It is unfortunate if they feel that way, for at the end of the day you are simply trying to manage your business during a period that – experience says – is likely to be challenging.
“But you don’t want to lose their goodwill and co-operation, so any complaints need to be handled well.”
West Yorkshire accountants have highlighted how a good World Cup run for England could provide a consumer spending boost for the economy.
Paul Nixon, a senior partner in the region at PricewaterhouseCoopers, highlighted the benefits for the economy of this summer’s soccer fest.
He said: “Winning a global sporting tournament such as the football World Cup has a significant impact on domestic consumer spending.
“We are technically out of recession, but such a boost in national morale and international brand perception would aid recovery.
“A strong performance by a national team creates a long-lasting feel good factor.”
A PwC survey showed that 12% of consumers In Yorkshire intend to spend more in pubs and restaurants and on new clothes and household goods if England win the World Cup.
Attendance at domestic football matches was also expected to increase if England lift the famous trophy.