One in five employees would call in sick to watch a sporting event

Employees are willing to put their leisure activities before work, according to new research released by Love Energy Savings. 

The survey that coincides with the start of the Euro 2016 today (Friday 10th June) asked workers if they would be willing to take a sick day in order to watch a sporting event and one in five people responded with ‘yes.’

During World Cup 2014 in Brazil, the majority of the games began outside traditional British office hours due to the different time zones. However, employment law specialists ELAS said the event would cost Britain £4bn (€4.9bn, $6.7bn) in lost productivity as thousands of workers revealed that they intend to pretend they are ill, so they can watch key matches.

Although, the England vs Wales match during the Euro 2016 is scheduled at 2pm on Thursday, 16th June, your output does not have to grind to a halt. Also you do not need to compromise your employee engagement either.

If you want to keep productivity high without cracking the whip too much follow these top tips on keeping people motivated and discover how you could even turn sporting events to your business’ advantage. 

Plan ahead

Whether they are watching the football or cheering on Team GB at the Olympics, as the dates for certain matches and events get announced, you are likely to see a spike in the amount of annual leave being requested. However, as much as you may want to, you are not going to be able to accommodate them all, but you can take steps to make it as fair as possible.

Gather a list of dates and ask everyone to register their interest in any games they want to watch. Calculate how many people you can afford to have off on a single day, and establish a rota to see if everyone desperate to take a day off (for the group matches during Euro 2016, for example) can do so.

Expand on your flexi-time offering

In an effort to achieve more of a work-life balance, as of 30th June 2014, all employees now have the right to request flexible working arrangements from their employers. As we have explored in the past, introducing “flexi-time” policies can be a difficult balancing act. While you may not want to use it to cover sporting events, your staff will likely be grateful for it during the summer months.

Take the Olympic Games for example. Rio de Janeiro is currently four hours behind the UK, which means odd starting times for some of the world’s most anticipated events are likely (in similar fashion to the aforementioned 2014 World Cup). Allowing your employees to start later, in order to accommodate a lie in after an adrenaline-filled late night watching the 100m final, ensures that they are not distracted by yawns and wasting the day being unproductive.

Compromise, compromise, compromise

Before implementing any concrete plans, be sure to have a think about any temporary changes that you could introduce into your business structure. Are there ways that your employees could make up for taking time out to watch games? In return for ducking out of the office for a couple of hours, could your sales team make it up by attending more conferences or after-work meetup events? You could find that their customer service improves dramatically as they will be grateful for the leniency shown and therefore more invested in their role.

Allow for breaks

If it is your turn to man the desks instead of taking a day off, you will probably be tempted to check Twitter for an update on the score. But while your employees may think that popping onto Twitter for a few seconds to check the latest state of play does nothing to harm their performance, statistics actually suggest otherwise.’s investigation into the digital habits of the country’s workforce calculated using social media during the nine to five could actually be costing the UK economy more than £25 billion a year.

It revealed that 72 per cent of people check their Facebook during office hours. The research also found that 81 per cent of those admit to taking measures to hide their usage, while 35 per cent say they spend as much as an extra hour a day on social media during work hours.

No matter what policies you implement, there is no practical way to monitor everyone’s social media usage without cracking down on it completely (at which point you risk alienating your staff, thus damaging team morale and engagement). So why not come up with a smart and practical solution?

Can sporting events actually improve the office environment?

Despite any measures you put in place, the chances are that your employees will still be distracted by what is going on in the world of sport. There is simply no way around it, so if their attention is likely to be elsewhere, why not use it to your advantage by using momentum of high-profile events for employee team building? 

About the author 

Phil Foster is the MD of Love Energy Savings.



Learn More →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *