Top Tips For Managing Staff During The FIFA World Cup

The FIFA Men’s World Cup kicks-off on 20 November with 32 nations competing to take home the prize. The tournament, which lasts until 18 December, may present a challenge when it comes to managing staff, especially as many of the matches will fall during or shortly after the working day. Below we outline our top tips for managing staff during the tournament.  

Sporting events policy

During this time, organisations can rely on an existing policy covering sporting events. This can outline the organisational stance on a variety of issues, including any concessions to accommodate staff during the tournament. Hopefully, this will still be fresh in everyone’s mind after the Women’s World Cup and Birmingham 2022 earlier in the year, however any changes should be highlighted prior to the tournament kicking off.

Workplace distractions

Kick-off times vary. However, many games will be played during business hours. Staff may become distracted as they attempt to keep up with the action, which could negatively impact productivity. To mitigate this, keep an eye out for anyone using their mobile phones and even consider blocking internet access or access to certain websites on workplace IT equipment for relevant periods.

Alternatively, managers could make staff aware of the scores or a TV could be placed in the staff room and allowing staff to watch games during their break.

Bullying and harassment 

World Cups are often revered for their ability to promote a sense of fandom and national pride. However, passions must not be allowed to get out of hand, and the workplace should remain a welcoming and safe environment for all. With each nation playing at least three games each, there will be plenty of opportunities to celebrate different nations.

Organisations should also be wary of staff making offensive sexist remarks during the tournament, ensuring there is an appropriate grievance reporting procedure in place and that instances of harassment are handled seriously.

Employees wanting to watch events

The decision for who gets to watch should be made fairly. It may be possible to show events during work and allow staff to time their breaks around particular matches, or some may ask to work at different times in order to see their favourite team.

For those wanting time off, processes for submitting annual leave requests should be clearly outlined in organisational policies and employees should be reminded of these rules. This may cause frustration for those wanting annual leave for different reasons, so processes must be applied fairly.

Employers may want to inform staff that attendance levels will be monitored during the tournament, to deter those who may be thinking of taking a day off anyway. Employees should be aware that any unauthorised absences will be classed as a form of misconduct that can result in disciplinary action.

Employers might consider embracing the tournament at work, using it as a way of developing a greater sense of morale and camaraderie. Attendance at work can be encouraged by holding themed events, such as fancy dress, food, or lunch-time games, and live notification of results.

Employees engaging in ‘banter’

There are likely to be employees of different nationalities represented in the World Cup within the workplace. Whilst this can lead to light-hearted rivalry, careful monitoring is needed to ensure no offence is caused; this can be an emotive topic. 

To avoid the potential for discrimination or harassment, employers should be careful to treat all employees in the same way regardless of nationality. Employers should also ensure that the workplace remains free from banter that could qualify as harassment or discrimination, through reminders of rules in place.

Managing alcohol

Alcohol and sporting events, for many, go hand in hand. A clear alcohol policy is needed, notifying employees of expectations, and warning that breaking these rules could lead to disciplinary action.


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