June 10, 2016

How can you minimise business disruption during the Euro 2016?

For people who like to watch sport, 2016 is a good year. Football’s UEFA European Championships are underway, we’ve just had the French Open and Wimbledon is not far off. And then there are of course the Rio Olympic Games in August. And there is plenty more.

Major sporting events can be a major headache for organisations and L&D. Even people that aren’t particularly sport-mad often like to tune in to watch big events such as the Olympics. This can lead to swathes of the workforce wanting time off work on the same day, at the same time. The England vs Wales match in the Euro Championships could be a flashpoint for example. Kick off is scheduled for 2pm on Thursday 16 June.

Daytime fixtures can be a real problem for some employers. Even if much or all of the workforce do remain at their desks, or wherever else they work, while a match is underway, chances are concentration levels will not be what they should be. Not regarding work anyway. There will be a lot of people checking twitter, Live feeds and their mobiles constantly.

And if employees can’t take the time off legitimately, there are always those who pull a sickie. One in five workers polled in a recent survey by business energy comparison specialist, Love Energy Savings, said they would be prepared to take a sick day in order to watch a sporting event.

Lost productivity – in terms of people taking time off work and employees following matches while at their desk – is a real concern for employees. A 2014 survey by employment law specialists, ELAS, predicted that the UK would suffer £4bn in lost productivity during the World Cup 2014.

With this in mind, what can L&D and employers do to minimise disruption to business?

– Be realistic. If you know employees are going to want to watch a big match or check up on the latest results from the Olympics, why not provide a space where they can go and watch it on a big screen. Where possible, give them the offer of flexi-time.
– Tell employees what you expect of them and what they can expect from you. Let them know that if watching sport eats into the working day – beyond their standard lunch and break times – you expect or would like them to make the time up at the beginning or end of the day.
– Be practical. When it’s one of the big events, don’t schedule important meetings.
– Plan ahead. Know when the big events are, when requests for leave are most likely to be made, and then let employees know what your policy on this is. If you can accommodate a certain number of employees taking leave, then say so.

Don’t just concentrate on the negatives. Think about the benefits you might enjoy as an organisation, if you can come to a workable solution that enables employees to see these sporting moments as they happen, without compromising organisational performance. Sporting events can be very unifying so capitalise on the buzz around them. Then there’s the feelgood factor employees will experience when they can see that their employer is being accommodating. That counts for a lot.