Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Employers guide to handling staff distracted by the World Cup


Lisa Galbraith, CEO

The month long sport fest that is the World Cup has begun. I was up at 4.30am on Monday morning cheering my team on (and grateful that I could climb back into bed). I am sure that their will be many people looking to watch as many games as possible. Australians, rightly or wrongly, seem to have a reputation for being sports mad and with the many “major events” spread throughout the year, Business need to consider how to manage the way their staff enjoy those events. World Cup viewers will have very disrupted sleep with many early mornings. Given the vast diversity of our work places, they will be watching and cheering for many teams. How will this impact your business?

Although as a business owner and employer you are not obliged to accommodate your staff’s interest in sporting events (and the World Cup is no different), there is some evidence to suggest that if employers are seen to be sympathetic towards their staff’s outside interests, then employees are more likely to go the extra mile for the organisation.

There are a number of things that business owners can consider to help staff make the most of the World Cup and other major events without compromising the needs of the business.

Some things you might consider:

Supporting flexible working

You could offer:

  • Staff flexibility over starting and finishing work earlier or later — providing core business hours are covered
  • Time off to watch games — providing time is made up on another day.

Enabling staff to change shifts
Allowing staff to change shifts is another way you can provide employees with the flexibility to watch games while ensuring that business is not compromised.

Allowing unpaid leave
As long as it does not have a negative effect on the business, you might might consider a scheme for unpaid leave.

Using the company’s computers to access the internet for updates
Business owners really need to have policies about computer and internet use, plus monitoring systems. If they do, then staff need to be reminded of those policies. It is up to each business owner to decide whether or not they are prepared to make an exception to the policies and allow staff to watch games or receive updates via the internet.

If the business does not have policies for computer use, use of the internet and monitoring, then this is a good time to introduce them.

Either way, the key is to communicate the position of the business regarding use of company equipment, including access and use of internet while at work, to all staff. Equally important is that when sanctioning ‘offenders’ the policies and procedures are followed and correctly implemented.

What about the other staff?

Some staff may resent that they have to work harder, and perhaps longer, to cover for absent and/or distracted colleagues. It seems only fair to acknowledge (and perhaps reward) the staff who step up and are prepared to go that extra mile for the business.

More serious work related implications associated with major sporting events
Major sporting events, have a strong correlation with significant increases in sales of alcohol. In fact, many supermarkets reduce prices and increase their marketing to coincide with such events.

It is up to the business owner or manager to make certain that the company’s policies on absence and misuse of alcohol are communicated. Staff need to understand that:

  • is unacceptable to call in sick when really it is an excuse to watching the event on TV or at the ground.
  • sick leave due to the excesses of a night celebrating, or turning up for work but being so hung over that work is impossible, will not be tolerated.

HR policies available

Business owners need to ensure that the company has up to date complaint discipline and grievance policies and procedures– and that they have been communicated to all staff. Employees who ‘offend’ need to understand the consequences of their actions. This is important for two reasons;

  1. A business cannot run smoothly when staff misbehave, misrepresent themselves and/or fail to perform, and
  2. Failure to deal with staff who ‘offend’ creates resentment and poor morale among employees in general — and sends the message that it is ‘ok to break the rules’.

You can buy an up to date HR Policy and Procedures Manual at Cleardocs which provides an approach for many of the issues discussed here.

In the meantime, enjoy the carnival that is World Cup soccer and remember the Tour de France is just around the corner....

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