Workplace productivity will decline during the 2010 FIFA World Cup

08 June 2010 Productivity South Africa

With over 90% of the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup game tickets sold, the event is bound to be a success on the sporting field, but still pose serious challenges with regards to productivity in the workplace.

South Africans have purchased over 1.1 million tickets and they cannot be faulted for lacking patriotism. However the increased focus on the FIFA 2010 World Cup event can be detrimental to workplace productivity.

Senior researcher at Productivity SA, Motlatsi Gabaocwe, says “gauging by the number of tickets bought by South Africans, we need to take into account the likely impact of the tournament on workplace productivity given that several matches will be played during office hours. Workplace productivity is bound to be affected and employers should be concerned about the issue of employee absenteeism and the resulting productivity loss.”

According to an international research report, Europe Talent (2006) which looked at the impact of the football world cup on productivity, the event can increase employee absenteeism thereby resulting in productivity loss during the tournament. A case study conducted in Holland in 2004 , found that tens of thousands of Dutch workers phoned in ill during the European Championship in Portugal in 2004; with the number of people allegedly being sick, rising 20% on days when the Dutch national side played.

The actual level of absenteeism is likely to be higher due to post match celebrations or lack of sleep as fans may stay up late until the early hours of the mornings to watch matches. For business this could translate into millions of man-hours of lost productivity.

To combat the loss to productivity, it is imperative that companies put in place measures which could minimise the impact of disruptions due to absenteeism on productivity; while at the same time accommodating the preference of employees who’ll be keen to watch world cup games.

Senior Economist at Productivity SA Michael Ade also adds that, “it is imperative that companies maintain and improve on productivity during the month long period of the FIFA 2010 Soccer World Cup tournament. Despite the economy having been in recession in the first half of 2009 coupled with the high job losses in the first quarter of 2010 and recent industrial strike action, the South African economy continues to gather momentum. Care should therefore be taken by management of companies to avoid loss of more work days as this may negatively impact on productivity.”

The following recommendations below from Productivity SA can help companies minimise the potential negative impact, maintain and possibly improve on productivity during the FIFA 2010 Soccer World Cup.

  • Set out a clear policy on the frequency and conditions of World Cup related absence that employees could enjoy. This policy could also deal with a policy on alcohol in the workplace
  • Develop a match roster which shows selected popular matches at work to avoid staff leaving the office for long hours. This occasion could be ideally used as a team building exercise and morale boosting exercise
  • Allow flexi hrs work at least for the duration of the World Cup
  • Have TVs at workplace especially in the board room and at the workshops for employees to watch specific matches
  • Set daily or weekly measurable milestones for employees who can take time off to watch matches once objectives are met
  • Encourage team work so that more experience members can help out less experience ones to expedite the tasks
  • Encourage employees to take leave or time off to watch matches rather than being present at work but unproductive
  • Encourage business meetings via telephone conferencing or video calls
  • Encourage workers to commute to work via lift clubs to avoid traffic congestion and delays to and from work
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