The economic cost of the World Cup

Intoxication, absenteeism, and hooliganism: Employers weigh-in on The World Cup

Kevin Makra|

Canadians know a thing or two about passion that exists for sport. What hockey is to this country transfixes the rest of the world for one month every four years into what is known as football fever. The World Cup is the biggest single-event sporting competition on the globe. Its worldwide attraction is massive. However, employers are giving workers the ‘red-card’ when it comes to ignoring their job responsibilities during the 2014 World Cup games.
World Cup Stats Off the Field

According to InsideView, a sales and data intelligence firm, an estimated 80% of the world’s population tunes in to watch the World Cup. The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) has made predictions that this year’s World Cup is expected to be the ‘most watched TV event ever’ – estimating that global viewers will surpass the estimated 3.2 billion pairs of eyes that watched the 2010 tournament.

Absenteeism is noted as the single biggest problem during the World Cup. In the U.K., a match between England and Algeria in 2010 led to nearly half of the British workforce not showing up for work. Things weren’t much better in Italy, where the country’s largest carmaker, Fiat, is said to have received more than 500 medical notes on match days.

While great news for TV advertisers, game sponsors, and football in general, there is a downside to this popularity – when so many people tune in to watch soccer’s premiere sporting event, they stop working and their companies lose money. InsideView estimates that the 2010 World Cup cost the UK $7.36 billion in lost productivity, and U.S. companies lost 10 minutes of productivity a day during the games. Have a look at InsideView’s infographic on Economic and Sales Productivity. (See below.)

Watching 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil: A Guide for Employers

The problem for employers worldwide is so serious that organizations have cropped up to assist firms cope with lower worker productivity. To help employers in Latin America deal with labour and employment law issues surrounding the sporting event, the Employment Law Alliance has published a report ‘Watching 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil: A Guide for Employers.’

In the report, employers are instructed in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Costa Rica, Mexico and Venezuela on how to deal with employment obstacles caused by the World Cup matches:

    Absenteeism – Where is everybody? Instruction is given on how employers should react to employee absenteeism, such as short-term absences, and what to do with employees who submit a false medical certificate.

    Organizing Work Time – Employers are encouraged to provide optional work arrangements and organize the work day so employees can follow matches. The risks associated with adapting these policies, such as discrimination against women and other minorities, and those that don’t watch the games are addressed.

    Internet Usage – Why is the Internet so slow? Firms are given guidance on company Internet usage during the games and filtering e-mail during work time. If a large number of employees are slowing down the company Internet, using bandwidth to watch matches, what steps can an employer take?

    Intoxication – It’s no secret that alcohol and the World Cup go hand in hand. What should an employer do if an employee shows up to work intoxicated during the games? Information on whether a firm can administer a breathalyzer in the workplace and what action, if any, can be taken for employees under the influence of alcohol while at work.

    Football Hooliganism – Let’s take to the streets! Employers are given advice on how to deal with misconduct of employees outside of working hours, such as football hooliganism.

    Office Pools and Gambling – Companies are offered guidance on the steps that should be taken with employees that gamble, or conduct office pools, on company property during the games.

For those of you that may have thought that the World Cup just meant extra chatter around the office cooler, think again. The world’s top sport is causing noticeable effects on the economic output of countries worldwide. Forget governments, sport may be the new world superpower! Now this is something to raise a glass to. Enjoy!

Infographic: Productivity during the 2010 Word Cup [Click on the image to enlarge.]

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Kevin Makra is the President of Sentor Media Inc., and founder of DirectoryOfCareers.ca. He can be reached at kmakra@sentormedia.com.


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