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Fruit & Flexibility: How to Reduce Absenteeism During the World Cup



“Come on England!”, if these words fill you with dread, I’m going to take a punt and suggest that you’re either the long-suffering partner of a total football fanatic (who you’re probably not going to have a meaningful conversation with until mid-July) – or a beleaguered office manager.

If you fall into the latter camp, chances are World Cup fever is not making your life any easier. The World Cup is by all accounts pretty bad for British business. In fact one survey of British workers revealed that 13% were planning to “pull a sickie” in order to watch the Brazilian action unfold.

Overall, it’s estimated that this long month and a bit of football glory could set the British economy back a frankly eye-watering £4bn in productivity. And it’s not just fake sickies which are eating into productivity. 85% of employees surveyed admitted that they were likely to spend up to 20 minutes score-checking and gambling at work each day. And all of these productivity drainers come on top of the authorised absences your footy-mad team members have booked off to make the most of all the top class sport.

So how you can start to win back control and begin boosting productivity in your workplace during the World Cup? Stand-by for a run down of top tips both big and small to help you keep a handle on things this summer…

Get Fruity

A happy office is a functional office, which means that the better you treat your team, the better they’ll treat your business and your rules. One big morale booster I’ve seen working lately is keeping your office full of fresh fruit. It may sound simple and a bit daft, but these kinds of perks help your employees to feel valued and cared for, creating a working environment founded on mutual respect. It’s also a great way to keep your team full of vitamins so that when those World Cup “sickies” come up, they don’t have a leg to stand on!

If it seems like too much hassle to keep your office fresh and fruity, there are some  great suppliers out there ready to make regular deliveries; I’ve used the very helpful Fruitful Office in the past and my team went bananas for it. (Sorry. ) At the end of the day, whether you choose fruit, a new batch of ergonomic chairs or a monthly in-house masseuse – this is all about showing your employees that you care about them, ensuring they care about you in return.

Be Flexible

I’ve seen many recommendations out there which advocate extending flexible working hours to your entire team during the World Cup. Instead of offering it solely to parents and carers as usual, a month long opening out of your flexible working policy could go a long way towards keeping productivity close to where it should be while the World Cup’s on.

In all likelihood, maintaining rigid working hours will mean that members of your team stoop to absenteeism. By meeting them halfway and offering flexible hours you can prevent the dreaded “sickie” and ensure more hours are spent productively rather than going to waste. Encourage home working but ensure your policy on drinking is clear. Also ensure that you don’t give an inch that gets taken a mile. Allow your employees the privilege of a month of flexible working, but monitor them closely and be sure to question any discrepancies.


Rigorously enforcing flexible working isn’t the nicest way to mitigate the World Cup’s drain on your business. There are some more enjoyable ways to simultaneously cut down on sickies and get into the spirit of things yourself. Watching particularly key games at work as a team (if your employees choose to join in) can be a good way to keep everyone on site and keep them sober during the day!

Order in football snacks to encourage your employees to hang around and turn the game into a fun workplace event. Encourage your team to come in an hour earlier, work through lunch or work an extra hour in the evening to make up for the time lost. Equally, activities such as office sweepstakes may be a  productivity drain but they also help to keep your staff in the office and engaged in the workplace. Talk to your team and find out what they’d like to see during the football season – then work out the best way to keep things ticking over efficiently together.

How is your office handling the World Cup? Are you facing higher rates of absenteeism? Will you consider extending flexible working to your whole team or is it all just a lot of fuss about nothing? Share your thoughts, tips and experiences with readers below!

Stewart Borough is a Bristol based business blogger, writing all about the ins, outs and marvellous minutiae of an office based existence.




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