Written by Jodie Case | 15th June 2021

We’re now into the Euro 2020 tournament and as ever excitement and hopes are mounting. As the competition goes on you may find you have some difficult decisions to make about how to strike a balance between allowing your staff to enjoy the football without affecting productivity.

Remember that encouraging and allowing people to participate in events that capture the national mood can be a real morale booster – but as some matches are played during working hours, you will also want to make sure staff are aware of what’s expected of them in the best interests of your business.

Here are five quick tips from the team:

  1. Holiday requests

If a lot of people in your workplace want to watch a match and they ask for annual leave, you may not be in a position to allow all of them to take the day (or longer) off at the same time. You may decide not to allow time off, but you will need to be aware this may lead to an increase in “sickness”.

Allowing your employees to take holiday where possible can show you value your staff and appreciate everyone’s need for a sensible work life balance. Offering some kind of flexibility, as much as you can, will make for a happier, more engaged team. The key is to make sure your policy is clearly communicated and all holiday requests are treated equally, so nobody feels aggrieved.

  1. If your people are hybrid or home working

If your people are hybrid or home working, you may want to introduce flexi hours during the tournament. This could be a system where staff take the afternoon off during a match or finish an hour or two earlier than usual. They could then make up the time either on the same day or on another occasion.

Remember too that hybrid working should focus on the work done, so ensure you measure (and celebrate) outputs and achievements rather than how many hours the employee sits at their desk working. They may be able to complete their tasks for the day in the morning from an early start and have time to watch a match in the afternoon.

Measures should be discussed and agreed in advance, so everyone is clear on expectations.

  1. Access to matches at work

If you can’t allow some or all of your staff to take holiday, you could give staff a way of tuning into a match during work hours, such as access to a television if they are in the office or online streaming at home.

If website or social media access is usually strictly controlled, you may want to consider relaxing these rules so staff can access the scores, and watch matches online during controlled break times. Or a radio might be a good compromise.

If you have staff who come from elsewhere in Europe, they may be following teams other than England, Scotland or Wales, so make sure they get equal consideration when it comes to watching their preferred games.

If you can show you are doing your best to accommodate your people’s desire to follow their team, they are more likely to work within the agreements made.

  1. Suspicious sick days

If someone is off sick on the day of a game, it can be tempting to make a judgement that they are not being entirely honest. That is dangerous – it can get everyone off on the wrong footing and lead to resentment.

Staff who don’t feel they can ask for time off during a match may be tempted to call in sick so that they can stay at home (or go to the pub) to watch it. But you should always start by assuming the absence is genuine.

Therefore, the same rules as usual apply – you need to have robust policies in place to cover unauthorised absence.

If you have doubts about an employee’s absence but there is no clear evidence to discipline them, you can investigate further and question the employee when they initially report the absence, and return to work. You may wish to take advice from an HR expert before pursuing any disciplinary action.

  1. What about people who aren’t football fans?

Be mindful that not all of your team are going to be avid football fanatics – ensure you are sympathetic to their needs too. If you’ve been especially accommodating for people who are following this tournament, bear in mind that others may have interests that they would appreciate your understanding about in the future. Someone who isn’t necessarily bothered about England vs Scotland but is a tennis enthusiast might appreciate some flexibility around Wimbledon later this year, for example.

Of course, if you would like specific advice directly related to your business, then please call us on 01256 328 428 or email info@realityhr.co.uk.