Don’t Be A Spoil Sport!

This summer’s sporting events are now in full swing, Wimbledon concludes this weekend and the Rio 2016 Olympics now just days away. For all this excitement, it can prove distracting for your business and so managing the day to day demands can be a bit sticky (heat or not). Employees often want time off at short notice and this, coupled with booked summer holidays means that your business will need to take these events into consideration. So how do employers remain sporting whilst keeping the business productive?

Enter Into The Spirit

Make sure you and your employees enjoy the summer and where possible, exercise some flexibility and enter into the spirit of the games. These events offer a great opportunity to boost staff morale, engagement and loyalty. Think about showing the most popular matches on a screen in the office or allow staff a limited amount of time to watch them on their PC or smartphone.

Be Mindful of Staff Diversity

Remember that all employees may not be supporting England. If you’re showing a match on a screen in the office, make it clear to staff that the organisation will not tolerate any abuse on the grounds of people’s nationality/ethnic origin otherwise the company may find itself facing a discrimination and harassment claim or even a constructive dismissal claim.

Stay Within The Law

Make sure the office is not being used for anything other than a sweepstake. A small sweepstake or work lottery doesn’t need a license provided that all the money staked is paid out as the prize money. This keeps things light-hearted too!

Plan Staff Absence

Talk to employees and their line managers to gauge the level of interest in this summer’s sporting events and if they’re likely to want to take time off. Often this doesn’t happen until events are hyped up. A quick email could really help everyone involved.

Agree guidelines

If you get a big response to your request for interest (ie everyone wants time off for the Olympic Opening Ceremony) you may need to agree some guidelines, such as ‘first come, first served’ in terms of holiday leave or a raffle- type selection process.

Review policies

Check these in terms of time off, holiday leave, flexible working, sickness absence, employee monitoring and disciplinary procedures. Make sure that managers are fully aware of these and how they may apply to employees’ absence, conduct or performance related to any sporting events.

Update policies

Having reviewed your policies you may wish to update or amend them, for example, to introduce temporary arrangements to allow staff to work from home at certain times, to swap shifts with colleagues or to work from a different remote location – preferably not a local bar! Alternatively, you could introduce a flexi-working system where staff can take a couple of hours off and make up for it at another time or introduce unpaid leave.


Make sure staff are well aware of what is expected, any special arrangements that will be put in place and the potential consequences. Make it clear what your business priorities are and remind staff that unauthorised absence may lead to disciplinary action or throwing a “sickie” to watch the match will be taken seriously and treated as gross misconduct.


Make sure that any unplanned staff absence is closely monitored and recorded. Ask staff to notify their manager of the cause of their absence at the earliest opportunity.

Prepare for unplanned absence

Despite all the best intentions, planning and polices you may still see the amount of short term absence with staff throwing a “sickie” rise. If your business requires it you may need to be prepared to call on agency staff or employees on ‘zero-hours’ contracts.

If you’d like support or advice in managing any of these issues within your business, please get in touch on 01386 751 740 or email [email protected]

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