World Cup 2018: HR Survival During The ’Sickie’ Season

World Cup 2018: HR Survival During The ’Sickie’ Season

The FIFA World Cup is underway in Russia, and rest assured the whole event is not going to pass your HR Department by. Football fans amongst staff members are unlikely to be able to resist, so the risk of absenteeism and likelihood of the innocent ‘sickie’ remain real.  So what are you to do?

The world really is paying attention to this festival of football across Russia, but the vast majority of viewers will have little to do with the countries actually competing. After all, the world’s best players, from Ronaldo and Messi to Harry Kane, Mo Salah and Paul Pogba, are followed everywhere, and the promise of drama and historic upset is a huge attraction.

In fact, according to research carried out by energy comparison site, Love Energy Savings before Euro 2016, some 20% of employees admitted they were happy to ‘pull a sickie’ in order to catch a match, or recover from one the next day. This is not exactly news, of course. Another study, researched by JLT Employee Benefits in 2015, revealed that summer sporting events cost UK businesses an estimated £100 million due to ‘questionable’ sick days.

So, what can a HR Department do to handle the situation and reduce the disruption this global sporting event creates. Here are a few suggestions we would recommend.


5 Steps To HR Survival Of ’Sickie’ Season

    1. Know Which Games Are High Risk, Then Prepare!

Fore-warned is fore-armed. When it comes to staff-critical environments, any absence can be hugely problematic. The first thing you’ll want to do is send a kind reminder to employees that an upcoming game is not justification for absenteeism. But, because there is still the chance someone might not show up, you need to make contingencies and know what replacements to call on or juggling to be done.

    1. Be Strict But Fair

You know that productivity and morale can be affected badly by absenteeism. So, making your policy relating to sickness absences known to employees is important. But there are 2 caveats: firstly, you must be prepared to enforce it though; and secondly, when you do, do so fairly. Any perceived unfairness could cause more damage in the long term, injuring loyalty and damaging motivation.

    1. Paint A Full Picture

When letting employees know the rules, but be sure they understand why it’s important they play by them.  If they are aware of the disruptive impact absenteeism can have on everyone, they are less likely to call in on a ‘sickie’ and are instead more likely to secure time off through the normal channels.

    1. Be A Little More Flexible

Not everyone is going to try to pull a sick day. Some may seek to take their holidays. It’s unlikely you will be able to authorise all requests, so it’s important to be a little flexible.  Offer a compromise, like providing a screen to watch a big game at work. That way you lose just 90 minutes work, not a whole day, and interested employees get to see the game they want. What is important is the offer is made visible, so employees are aware you’re meeting them half way.

    1. Seize The Opportunity To Improve Employee Wellness

Get in on the action by organizing fun employee-friendly activities that boost overall workplace morale and enhance employee wellness.  You could organize a World Cup lottery, a mini-world cup competition in table football or 5-a-side soccer at the local public playing fields. There are lots of World Cup themed activities colleagues will not want to miss out on – and while they’re having a ball, you defeat the urge some might have to pull a sickie.


Key FIFA World Cup 2018 Games:

England v Tunisia, June 18; v Panama, June 24; v Belgium, June 28

France v Australia, June 16; v Peru, June 21; v Denmark, June 26

Spain v Portugal, June 15, v Iran, June 20; v Morocco, June 25

Brazil v Switzerland, June 17; v Costa Rica, June 22; v Serbia, June 27

Argentina v Iceland, June 16; v Croatia, June 21; v Nigeria, June 26

Germany v Mexico, June 17, v Sweden, June 23; v S Korea, June 27

Last 16: June 30 – July 3

Quarter-Finals: July 6 & 7

Semi-Finals: July 10 & 11

Final: July 15

About the Author

AnnualLeave is a leading employee leave management tool on the market, lifting the HR headache by cutting request processing times, monitoring leave trends, and maintaining company compliance all with one user-friendly, affordable self-service app. For more information you can get in touch with one of our team via our online form or email at

Comments are closed.