HR Departments Should Be Up For The Cup


The end of the football season is closing in, with cup finals and play-off games all that is left in the domestic calendar, but this is not a time for football fans to be sad. You may be wondering if the England World Cup Squad video announcement or the video itself was the most disappointing thing you’ve seen this week, but the Russian World Cup is looming, and excitement is building. However, HR Departments may find that they face a few challenges during this summer’s big event.

The tournament kicks off on the 14th of June and it runs all the way through until July the 16th. This means more than a month of football action and for the avid fan, there is going to be a lot of games to watch, with many days featuring a few games within a short time-frame.

Fans want to cheer on the action in big games

It is only natural that fans will want to cheer on their favourites and as a starting point, you may want to familiarise yourself with the date and times of the England group games. If you are in a traditional 9 to 5 working environment, you should find that you are okay with the games, which are:

  • England versus Tunisia on Monday 18th June at 7pm
  • England versus Panama on Sunday 24th June at 1pm
  • England versus Belgium on Thursday 28th June at 7pm

All the English group games are in the evening or at the weekend, so this should minimise the number of requests for time off to see these games. There have been previous tournaments where England kicked off during the working day, and this saw firms having to deal with numerous requests for time-off. In some cases, companies decided it was best to head off the demand and show the game at work.

Of course, that doesn’t always go to plan. There was an early morning start for the Brazil versus England game back in 2002 and it would be fair to say that morale in the office or the factory floor was at a low ebb with England exiting the tournament. Ronaldinho produced a moment of magic to flight the ball over David Seaman and in that instant, not many people felt like working hard for the rest of the day.

However, if England progress beyond the group stages, there may be clashes and of course, if England are performing well (or if fans feel they need to drown their sorrows), there may be some unscheduled absenteeism the day following the game. There are scheduled Round of 16 and Quarter Final ties on weekday afternoons, so there may be challenges to deal with later.

There may be requests for leave from fans of other nations

It is also important to remember that not everyone is an England fan, and there may be requests from people who want to follow their own nation. Every organisation will have their own policy in place for annual leave so please make sure that it is robust and that you are able to allocate requested holiday fairly. There may be dates when the demand for annual leave outstrips the level of demand that your firm can handle, and this must be handled carefully.

Also, many workplaces have shift-patterns, so it could be that you have employees scheduled to work during the England games. If this is the case, it is best to prepare as best as you can in advance. Whatever policy you have with respect to allowing leave or an unscheduled absence, make sure that it is clearly defined.

This style of event poses challenges for HR Departments to deal with. There is a desire to keep employees happy, but the business needs of the company must be met too. There is also a need to ensure that fairness prevails, which is often the biggest issue in allocation leave during these games or tournaments. Some firms offer a “first come, first served policy” while others impose a blanket ban on absenteeism.

Set your HR tactics out early

There is room to manoeuvre in dealing with World Cup requests and the most important thing is to define what you are going to do, have your policy in writing and ensure that every employee has the chance to review this policy.

There is enough evidence to suggest that when England does well at a major tournament, there is a level of positivity around the country. The scenes surrounding Euro 96 when football came home is an example of this, and many firms have business reasons to hope that this is a fantastic tournament that is remembered for all the right reasons.

However, there is also a need to ensure that your business needs are met, and your HR Department has a significant role to play this summer, certainly a much bigger role than Joe Hart or Jack Wilshere!

If you want guidance in preparing for the World Cup, call up Davenport HR for guidance and support. You will find that no matter the score, we are on your side.