How to slam-dunk sporting distractions

19 June 2017

Have sporting distractions got your workplace’s productivity trailing 40–love? Well, you might be relieved to know you’re not alone.

Almost one quarter of UK workers admitted they’ve pulled a sickie to watch a sports event*, and six in 10 said they’d snuck a look at the coverage – while they were supposed to be working – on their phone, tablet or PC.

Avoid an own-goal

Research has shown that more than 50% of employers are bad sports and don’t make any allowances for major sporting events**. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by ignoring the event all together.

Instead, look at the long game and use it as an opportunity to engage your employees. Although your productivity might take a slight slump in the short term, try to think of the bigger picture – after all, happy staff do stay longer.

Switch tactics

If you can, show a little leniency. We’re not saying you need to go all out for every Premier League or Davis Cup tie, but try to accommodate things like the Olympics, World Cup and Wimbledon, for example.

1. Relax your social stance: if you’ve got a strict no social media policy, have a think about temporarily substituting it for something more flexible.

2. Put it on the big screen: if appropriate, show the event on TV so that employees can catch a glimpse of the action in-between tasks. This way, even if they are keeping an eye on the result, they can be getting on with some work at the same time. And even if they don’t get chance to catch it, the thought will pay dividends.

3. Tune in on the radio: if screening it on the box isn’t practical, tune in on the radio instead.

4. Topical fun: have a bit of fun with topical-themed quizzes, sweepstakes, decorations or food. You’ll bond with employees, show you’re not all about the numbers all the time, and bring in an additional workplace perk. Who knows, if it’s popular, it could become a regular team-building event outside of sports events, too.

5. Flexible working: it’s not for everyone, but some employers offer flexible working options around the really big events. If you do consider this, be sure to carefully set out some rules.

6. Long lunches: if there’s a big fixture during the day and your set-up allows it, you could let employees take an extended break so they’re not left on a cliff hanger.

Flag a yellow card

Don’t be afraid to draw the line if it’s all give and no take. If employees start spending too much time on the side line and take advantage of your leniency, pull them to one side and remind them of your expectations of them.

We’d recommend clearly outlining your expectations of employees – in writing – when informing them of any temporary leniencies. This’ll give you something to fall back on, should you need to.

Locker-room banter

It’s only natural employees will predict, critique and debate results, but make sure:

1. It doesn’t eat into their working day too much.

2. Debates don’t get too heated – you don’t want any employees going all Tyson Fury on you!

3. No-one crosses the line and says something that could be deemed offensive or discriminatory towards an employee’s age, race or sex.

Make sure you serve an ace

If you’re unsure of how to get the balance right, deal with employees who take advantage or handle discrimination claims that might arise, get in touch with our experts and we’ll help you get over the finishing line.

*According to research conducted by TalkTalk.

**According to research conducted by Office Genie.

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