How to handle the World Cup flu pandemic…?

With England’s first World Cup match just around the corner, many employers will be bracing themselves for the great four-yearly flu pandemic.

The World Cup in 2006 is estimated to have cost the British economy up to £4bn through lost productivity, so it’s important that firms minimise the impact of the 2014 footballing carnival – but what’s the best way to ensure that it’s ‘business as usual’ during the Brazilian World Cup?
To avoid a sharp increase in absences, employers have to think carefully about how they can get the most from their workforce where key matches clash with work schedules.  A heavy handed approach could cause huge resentment, but equally, being too relaxed about the whole thing could result people taking advantage.

Margaret Laurie, Head of Clinical Governance at Santia’s Occupational Health Division spoke of the need to strike a balance:

“Flexibility is vital if the impact of high profile sporting fixtures is to be contained.  Unauthorised absences must be minimised and workers must understand that absences for non-genuine reasons are not acceptable.  Firms need to have systems in place to monitor, measure and police all absences so that they can identify if there is a problem, how significant it is and how it’s best dealt with.

“Putting a radio or television in the workplace is a great idea, but this isn’t always possible.  Therefore, it’s important to ensure fairness when granting leave – workers who do not enjoy football won’t be happy if fans appear to get extra perks.  Flexible working patterns during matches can be a way around the problem and demonstrate to staff that the company recognises the special occasion.”

Ultimately, employers need to use their judgment and look at all the options available to them to help workers keep in touch with World Cup action – and maybe even explore ways to use the carnival atmosphere to improve productivity!

Post date: 26 Jun 2014

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