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The Rugby World Cup 2015 – A Try-ing time for employer?

The enormous sign on the Tyne Bridge warned us a few weeks ago that the Rugby World Cup 2015 was on its way and fans of the sport will know that it will finally kick off on 18 September 2015. Unfortunately, those who are not into sport will also not be able to avoid it during the 6 weeks it will last.  With England as the host nation, it is likely to create a rugby fever but may also cause some issues to employers who may see a spike in annual leave requests, absenteeism, abuse of internet policy, discrimination and potentially harassment.  

Whilst such events can have an impact on staffing and productivity levels, it may be an opportunity to take advantage of high morale and improve levels of employee engagement if handled carefully.

Here are some guidelines as to how you can set-up a defensive line and kick issues into touch:

  • Consider flexible working during the tournament (for all staff and not only rugby fans), such as allowing employees to come in early or work through their lunch breaks, to enable them to leave early to catch a match.  Reinforce that such arrangements should be pre-approved;
  • Harness enthusiasm for the tournament through themed team activities;
  • Remind staff about the organisation’s sickness absence policy and that unauthorized absence during the tournament will be subject to closer scrutiny, with attendance to a return to work interview;
  • Encourage staff to take annual leave if they want to watch the rugby.  Remind them also that there is no guarantee that requests will be approved, but they will be granted fairly;
  • Set some ground rules to cover behaviour throughout the tournament, for example confirming that attending work still under the influence of alcohol to an extent that will prevent them to work efficiently will not be acceptable;
  • Set out clearly (or remind staff of) your expectations regarding internet use and the use of social media during working hours;
  • Install a TV in break areas for all key games (but not just England games) but be clear about when staff can watch the games at work;
  • Accommodate non-rugby fans too, to ensure their moral is not affected during that period.

Well-managed, there is a huge goodwill to be gained from accommodating flexible working requests, as it is a great way to thank and engage staff, but also to celebrate an international event.

If you wish to plan ahead, you can access the World Cup fixtures here.

Please feel free to contact us on 0191 282 2880 for a no obligation chat or email us if you require further advice.

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