World Cup fever hits your office

It’s Monday the 18th of June 2018.

Now that date may not mean a lot to some of you, but for others, you’ve been marking off the days waiting until England takes their first match tonight in the 2018 World Cup. 

What’s that got to do with business?

Actually, quite a lot.

Tonight’s game is a 7 o’clock kick off. So it doesn’t really impact our work at all. However, you may have a few staff with hangovers tomorrow morning.

What I want to do here, is just give you a couple of tips for dealing with games while at work, and the morning after the night before.

The first thing to remember, is not everybody in your office is going to support England. So you need to be quite mindful of that, either because they just don’t support England, or they don’t think they’ve got a particularly good chance of winning, or because actually, they’re not English themselves, and they support a home team.

One of the things that as an employer, you need to do, is to make sure that nobody in your office is subject to any bullying or harassment because of the team that they support.

Now, it may seem really trivial, but if you’ve got somebody in your office that is from Tunisia, or whose parents are from Tunisia, and they’re playing England tonight, that can be a really difficult dynamic to deal with. As an employer, you have a duty of care towards all of your staff, and that does extend to making sure that they’re not bullied because of the football team that they support. Especially, when it comes to the World Cup. Because actually, what you can end up with, is a discrimination claim against you because of nationality or harassment because of someone’s nationality.

Lots of different things to think about. So the first thing to do is to talk to your staff.  While your encouraging everybody to get involved, to appreciate football – sport is an amazing opportunity to bring people together – they actually just need to be mindful of respect – respecting people regardless of where they’re from or what teams they follow.

So the next thing is whether or not you’re going to allow them to have TV’s on in the office. Now, some companies will say, if its an England game playing, we’ll have the TV on. If you want to watch it take your lunch break during the match, or go down to the local pub. But again, you need to be mindful of the fact that some people aren’t going to be supporting England, so you need to make provisions that apply to anybody regardless of the team that they support to enable people who want to watch the match to do so in a way that minimises the impact on the working day.

Stick to your rules, most companies have a rule where people aren’t allowed to attend work under the influence of drug and alcohol. That’s fine, and if people go to the pub to watch a game then they need to make sure that they come back to work sober. Because if they don’t, then you’re company disciplinary policy applies. You have an absolute right to enforce that, regardless of the reasons for people having gone out.

If you decide to bring pizza or drinks into the office to celebrate, then again, you just need to be mindful of the fact that not everybody drinks and not everybody is going to want to be following the football as there are some people who just don’t want to know. Again, don’t make those people feel marginalised because of the football match that’s on.

So what do you do if people just don’t turn up to work?

You need to follow your own company policies and procedures. If they’ve booked the day off, that’s great, but actually, you’re not obliged to give them the day off. So if you have a whole department of five people that request time off to watch the football, you have the absolute right to say no; and if people still take that time off, and you believe that it’s not due to a genuine sickness absence, then again, you’ve got the right with a back to work interview and an investigation process, to actually discipline for absence without permission.

If that’s the route you want to go down, my one bit of advice, is to be consistent, whatever you do, whatever you apply for one person, needs to be applied for everybody. So you can’t treat men differently to women, you can’t treat young different to old. You can’t treat Tunisian employees any differently to British employees, or the Dutch or the Germans in your office environment.

Whether England will get through to the quarter finals, the semifinals, or even the finals, (not going to say it, but I doubt that they will), but even if they do, World Cup Fever is only going to escalate over the next few weeks.

As an employer, you need to make sure that you are still able to run your business. That your business is running effectively, and that your staff know what they are and aren’t allowed to do. Consistency, communication, are absolutely key here.

Whatever the outcome, have an amazing 2018 World Cup.

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