The World Cup and Absence Levels

What would happen if England wins the World Cup?

We are just a few days away from the final of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Even surrounded by criticism, tested loyalties and national teams taking a stand on different issues. This World Cup has brought together the whole world, whether or not you are a football fan, it is difficult to escape the football fever, especially in England, with only 3 games away from the trophy, we can all but start singing “it’s coming home”.

With the likes of strong teams such as Germany, Belgium and Spain out of the running, the Three Lions now only need to overcome the ever-favourite giants Argentina and Brazil and we know for sure the team is training hard to bring the trophy home.

That begs the question, if indeed the World Cup trophy comes home, how many “unplanned” absences will your business be impacted with? And most importantly are you ready or have plans in place in case of a spike in absence the day before, after or even on the day of the final whistle?

Perhaps, like many of our clients, your business has experienced a sudden, but not surprising spike in short-term absence since the start of the World Cup. We have checked our data to compare the number of absences reported during the week before the World Cup started and the week when we had 4 games daily to see how much or if at all football has impacted absence levels across our client base.

Our absence data suggests that there was indeed a 7% increase in the number of absences reported in comparison to the week before the start of the games. Not surprisingly, there was an average increase of 18% on the days when England played, suggesting that in the coming days when England plays France for a place in the semi-finals, now might be a good time to start planning for employees calling in sick or taking impromptu leave from work.

This does not only apply to England fans, our clients have a multinational workforce and we also noticed that on the days when Brazil and Portugal played in the last 16 the number of absences reported increased by 16% in comparison to the first week in November.

The data suggests there is some correlation between football fever and an increase in the number of absences reported on match days. To that extent, what can companies do in preparation for perhaps an increase in employee absence in the coming days while we eagerly await the results of the game?

Would your company consider allowing employees to arrive late to a shift or watch the match during the 7 pm shift? Giving the opportunity to watch the most anticipated game might encourage employees to be at work and not call in sick. The day after regardless of the result, it might be a much harder task to encourage employees to be at work. Managers should be encouraged to have open conversations with employees to discuss the work requirements and offer an alternative to taking a full day off sick, maybe taking unpaid leave instead.

Whether England goes all the way or manages to take the 3rd place in the most-watched event of this year, all companies still have to manage employee absence daily but during this time that only comes every 4 years, absence levels might be much trickier to track, especially without a robust database such as Honeydew Engage.