Listen up, Leaders! Five Benefits of Encouraging Employees to Watch the World Cup

Type ‘watching the world cup at work’ into a search engine, and the same results are likely to keep appearing over the coming weeks. These are the days YOU need to book off for the 2018 World Cup. How to watch the World Cup at work – without getting caught. Can I get sacked for watching the football? Here’s what to say to your boss if they catch you.

Does the World Cup need to be like this at work? These results tell us that many organisations aren’t encouraging employees to get together for the games (and a high number of employees are finding ways around it, and fearing the consequences if they get caught out). It goes without saying that a large number of people will be actively watching their national team’s games at work, or at least keeping an eye on it via the internet or social media. The recent Attitudes Towards the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia research from Ipsos Mori showed that 24% of viewers planned to miss school or work to watch the matches, and 49% expected to follow the football with colleagues.

Taking time off to watch every match isn’t always an option within many industries. But for those employees who can take time away from work (or be flexible with their hours) without dire consequences, should their leaders allow and encourage it? We’ve listed five potential benefits of encouraging employees to watch the World Cup at work below:

It tells them you’re listening

A quick search on Google tells us that employees everywhere are trying to find ways to fit the football into their working day – without getting caught (or sacked). We don’t need a search engine to tell us that most people will want to watch certain games, even if they’re not too bothered about football outside of the World Cup. The Ipsos Mori research showed that 20% of participants in the UK ‘will watch as many games as possible, at any given time.’ A further 25% said they would only watch games played by the national team.

Leaders can show employees they’re listening to them by allowing them to take time out (where possible) – instead of ignoring it and pretending everyone’s not distracted during these periods.

It brings teams together

One of the things many of us enjoy about watching the football is that it brings people together. If you’re watching the game at a pub, it’s easy to end up chatting to a total stranger – and watching the football in the office could have the same effect. For employees working in small, close-knit teams, this could be a great way for them to connect socially with their co-workers (the Ipsos Mori research showed that 30% of UK-viewers expected to follow the World Cup with colleagues). Equally, for employees working for large companies or organisations, it could be beneficial in bringing teams and colleagues together who would rarely meet otherwise.

It could boost productivity

Studies show that taking breaks at work can be beneficial in many ways. Switching off from a task for a while can increase productivity and creativity, improve decision-making, restore motivation, and aid learning. Allowing employees to take a couple of hours out to watch the game could mean they’re more likely to return to their tasks feeling rejuvenated and energised, instead of feeling fatigued (or distracted from searching for the score every few minutes).

It shows you trust them

Leaders who allow (and encourage) their employees to watch the games are indirectly saying ‘I trust you.’ If you work in a role that includes time-bound duties that can’t wait, your employer is saying ‘I trust that you’ve prioritised your workload in order to take a couple of hours off’ or ‘I trust that you’re not ditching your work for someone else to pick up.’ Giving employees the freedom to decide for themselves – without a clock-watching manager in the background – will show that you trust them to handle these decisions (it’ll also mean they won’t have to hide in the loo/under their desks to watch the game).

It’s a way to say ‘thank you’

As a leader, encouraging your employees to take time to do something they love shows that you care about them personally, as well as professionally. Allowing people to switch off from work (and switch on the TV) for a short period could be a great way to thank them for all the hard work they’ve been doing in the months leading up to the World Cup.

17% of Ipsos research participants in the UK said they expected to miss work or school to watch the games. A recent blog from the Trades Union Congress said that ‘showing a bit of common sense’ during the World Cup could prove to be a morale-booster – because employees will remember that their leaders allowed them to participate in something they love.

How has your organisation handled the World Cup so far? Have you been getting together with colleagues to watch the game? We’d love to hear about it – let us know via Twitter, or in the comments section below.

Further reading:

Ipsos Mori: Attitudes Towards the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia

Trades Union Congress: Employers – it’s the extra 10 percent that your staff remember

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