Managing employee attendance and performance during sporting events

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The Women’s World Cup started last week and there is more interest than ever in the Lionesses following their European Championship win last summer.

Taken alongside July’s other picks of Wimbledon, the Ashes and the Netball World Cup, with the Rugby World Cup starting in September, employers may be struggling with managing attendance and performance while prominent international sporting events take place during the working day. In particular, given the flexibilities most employers now offer such as working from home and flexitime. 

So what can employers do to manage the situation?

Home working/ flexitime arrangements

If you operate flexitime arrangements, employees may be able to adjust their working hours without there being a detriment to their working time. Similarly, if employees are trusted to work from home during their regular working pattern, allowing them to work from home on match days can help minimise disruption.

Annual leave

Requests for annual leave should be dealt with in the usual way and should be considered fairly. 

Workplace viewing areas

If possible, you could designate communal areas with TVs to watch important matches during work breaks. Creating workplace viewing areas allows employees to enjoy the tournament without negatively affecting productivity or distracting others. It can also foster team spirit – and celebrating any victories for the Lionesses can promote a sense of pride (excuse the pun).

Manage absences appropriately 

If an employee calls in sick on a match day, the absence should be taken at face value. However, if there is evidence of an employee incorrectly using the absence policy for other reasons, the matter should be investigated to see if any misconduct has occurred. This should include an investigation meeting with the employee to establish the real reason for the absence. If there is any evidence to support a view that the employee has misled you about the reasons for their absence, a disciplinary process may need to be followed. 

Encourage open communication

Creating an atmosphere of open communication is crucial. Encourage employees to discuss their interest in the sporting events and any potential conflicts with work schedules due to the timings of any matches. By fostering open dialogue, you can better understand employees’ wishes and look to find solutions that work for both the business and the employee.

These periods of sporting interest, particularly during the traditional working hours of 9-5, are cyclical and tend to crop up during the summer period most years, whether that be an international football tournament, the Olympics, the Ashes or Wimbledon, so it is worth employers keeping an eye on what’s coming up in the calendar and working with employees to create a plan that works for everyone.

When planning for big sporting events in the workplace employers should keep in mind that not everyone will be supporting the same team or nation, so to keep any activities as inclusive as possible employers should celebrate the event itself and not just the participation of one particular team or nation. 

Employers may also want to make allowances for people who have no interest in sporting events to still be able to enjoy the same amount of downtime as those who are taking the opportunity to watch the events. 

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If you need help with managing employee absences or performance, please contact a member of our expert team.

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