5 ways to embrace the World Cup in your workplace

Geir Darge · 25 Jun

The clock strikes six and the streets are deserted, the underground is empty. The subdued silence might seem disconcerting, until you peer into any pub and see throngs of roaring fans shouting in jubilation. It can only mean one thing: World Cup season.


For the punter it’s the highlight of their year but as a manager it can spell disaster. In 2014 the World Cup saw 131 million working hours lost as people skipped work and stayed up late, basking in the revelries.

This might seem like an alarming statistic if you’re an employer or manager but remember that all large sporting events have this effect. And while there isn’t much you can do to stop it, there are step you can take to reduce its impact.

1. Acknowledge the games are happening

There’s no use in sidestepping the issue: the World Cup is happening and many of your employees will have vested interests. If you opt to ignore the event, it will shut down the lines of communication between you and your staff and consequently you’ll be faced with an epidemic of “sick days”.

When it comes to managing events that are fuelled by such passion, the worst thing you can do is make your employees choose between what they love, and their work. In this instance, it isn't’ surprising which one they are going to opt for...

2. Work around matches

Football doesn’t play by the rules of a 9-5 working day; the games can happen anytime between 13:00 and 19:00. In such a multicultural sporting event it’s inevitable that the daily rhythm of work will fall out of step, with every employee supporting their home team.

So take this into consideration when planning meetings or scheduling work. If you know Paul from sales will be watching the France game during your weekly meeting, then push it back an hour or so. It will take the pressure of your colleagues and help stem the decrease in productivity.

3. Be a team player

Without question there will be unscheduled absences during this period. For some the excitement and camaraderie will get the better of them and indulgence will diligently ensue. However it’s unlikely everyone will want to watch Denmark vs. Australia. For those who do, can you work around it? The aim is to function like the teams you are avidly watching: if a colleague has dropped the ball for a day, how can you help pick up the slack?

4. Use enthusiasm to your advantage

The World Cup brings an energy that no other sporting event comes close to replicating. The atmosphere is electric, so why not try and harness this natural resource? Yes the World Cup will always come as a distraction but its impact on your workforce will depend on how you deal with it.

The best course of action is to embrace the excitement and thread it through your work. Put the matches on at work, organise a sweepstake or even arrange for a work trip to the pub to watch the game. If anything, treat the whole experience as a team building exercise.

5. Enjoy yourself

At the end of the day, the World Cup is an enthralling sporting event that should be a treat and not a burden. As a manager it’s important not to get too caught up in the negatives of what should be a fun four weeks. So get involved in the fun, chat to your staff about the games, have a team in the sweepstake. It will make the interim far less stressful and also help you connect with your staff.


If you want find out more about striking the perfect work/life balance, then why not check out our ebook, How to build and nurture a winning company culture:


You might also like...

Hop on our mailing list...

And have our very best HR insights and company news sent straight to your inbox. You won't regret it.