By Claire West
Managers from UK small and medium businesses (SMEs) fear that the World Cup could have a significant financial impact on their businesses, potentially costing them up to £400 million in lost working hours, according to figures published today by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).
The research reveals that 50% of the sector’s employers are panicking at the thought of their employees being distracted by online coverage of the World Cup throughout June and July. At least 51% think that endless conversations about football will divert employees’ attention from the job in hand, while almost two in five suspect employees will take unauthorised time off to watch games.
While these fears are not surprising given the countless stories about the potential impact of this summer’s tournament on organisations, it seems this anxiety is largely unfounded. Those predicting a spike in skiving should perhaps give their employees more credit; not a single person among those polled by CMI would consider calling in sick to watch an important match. The vast majority of workers said that work comes first, and said that if their team crashed out of the tournament it would not affect their work.
Responding to the survey’s findings, Ruth Spellman, chief executive of CMI, said: “The World Cup should not negatively impact business performance. In fact leaders could be missing a trick by dwelling on fears of coping with empty offices all summer’.
‘The fact that more than half of our managers and leaders think that there is nothing they can do to prevent the World Cup from distracting staff or to limit unauthorised absences amplifies the desperate need for improved standards of management and leadership. Better trained and qualified managers would be able to see the World Cup as a great opportunity for engagement, and take proactive measures to manage the situation to get the best out of it’.
CMI is encouraging employers to embrace the World Cup — potentially installing screens to watch some games into the workplace, and capitalising on the potential of the tournament to build teams.
Professor David Sims of City University London’s Cass Business school explained: “There will be the bonding experience of watching a game with others who you may not know yet but you have seen around, as you find that they share interests with you. Informal conversations will lead to the formation of new informal networks, shared feelings and greater sympathy’.
Time to start installing those screens in preperation for the big game?
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