With Europe gearing up to go football crazy on the 12th June, many employers, particularly those with evening and shift workers, could find their productivity threatened if employees go AWOL to watch big games.
A survey carried out around the 2002 World Cup found that four out of ten football fans threw at least one ‘sickie’ during the World Cup, costing business in the region of £390 million.
To counter the temptation during Euro 2004, Investors in People (IIP) is urging organisations to face up to the problem and consider their game plan in advance.
Ruth Spellman, Chief Executive of IIP, said, "This problem always exists around big sporting tournaments, but employers seem to ignore it and hope it goes away.
“Our advice is to get the systems in place that recognise the issue and offer staff greater flexibility in working patterns, so that staff are appreciative and productivity levels are not undermined."
Among the ideas IIP suggest which may help employers manage the issue is allowing employees to bring in radios to listen to the games or providing a television screen and extending break times while matches are taking place. Employees can then make up time earlier/ later in their day or shift.
Offering staff flexible working options so they can make up time earlier/ later in their day or shift, creating a rota for finishing early, so everyone knows they will get their chance and introducing the 'peakie' system, whereby employees can start work an hour later the day after a major match if they make up their time during the day, are other ways to keep unauthorised absence to a minimum.
Ruth Spellman added: "Employers can make the situation work to their advantage by increasing staff motivation through the flexibility they introduce on employees' behalf. Obviously different approaches will suit different organisations, but the key point is that employers should be proactive and decide their game plan in advance.
"They should consider what reasonable adjustments can be made to enable their employees to follow the football - and keep their productivity. If not, they risk scoring an own goal in the long-run."