Some 8,000 employees just missed their shot when they revealed what they are planning for this year’s FIFA World Cup.
If you are a business owner, keep a close watch on your employees this summer, as the event draws near.
A new Survey by GulfTalent, an online website for job classifieds, reveals that your staff won’t just lose 28% of their productivity this summer, but they will do it while also using your company’s resources.
The tournament, due to be played in Russia from 14 June to 15 July, will run each day between 2 pm and 1 am UAE time (1 pm to 12 midnight in Saudi Arabia).
Eyes will be on the ball at peak work hours.
Everyone is excited
Interest across the Arab world in this year’s World Cup is highly justified, as teams from an unprecedented four Arab countries have qualified for the international competition, and the participation of Saudi Arabia and Egypt, including its star striker Mohamed Salah, has particularly heightened Gulf and Arab interest in the games.
The heightened euphoria around the games this year, combined with the fact that many matches will be played during Middle East’s working hours and can be live streaming on any smartphones, is set to have some drawbacks as employees struggle to keep up with the event during their work hours.
92% of employees are watching
Based on survey’s findings, approximately 92% of employees in the region plan to watch some of the games.
When looking at gender ratios, the percentage is slightly lower among women at 84%, as compared with 93% of men.
The employees surveyed across the region 28%, or one in four, admitted planning to watch some of the games during working hours.
Roughly one-third of the surveyed expected that they would be permitted to watch the games, while a quarter said they would secretly watch the games by live streaming them on their computers or smartphones.
Strategies that employees reported they would use to watch the games during working hours include requesting a full day of annual leave, leaving work early to watch the games, or simply calling in sick.
Who’s likely to watch
When comparing across different job categories, Accountants were found more likely than others to secretly watch the games at their desk.
Customer Service professionals in comparison were more likely than others to take a day of annual leave, while Civil Engineers were more likely to leave work early to watch the games.
A further source of productivity loss identified in GulfTalent’s survey is late night game watching and after-hours socializing.
Almost two-thirds of professionals surveyed said they will watch the late matches even if it meant sleeping late. When asked how this would impact their work the next day, 74% of them said they will simply cut down on their sleep to get to work on time.
A further 17% would go to work late, while 8% would take the next day off as annual leave, and 1% would call in sick.
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Upper management in on the game
The survey found that many managers also intended to watch the games during working hours.
Within this segment, senior executives and company directors registered the highest rate, with 32% of them planning to watch the games during working hours, as compared to an overall staff average of 28%.
Unlike the non-managerial staff who mostly resort to streaming on their phones, a sizeable number of senior executives plan to watch the games on company TV screens.
The survey also asked managers how much flexibility they would allow their subordinates to watch the games. Overall, 67% of managers said they would consider allowing their staff to watch some of the games, provided the workload is not too heavy.
The survey found that managers who were themselves inclined to watch the games were more likely to give flexibility to their employees to watch them.
Moreover, they were more willing to give their subordinates time off on days when their own personal favorite teams were playing.
The threat to productivity is not confined to the Middle East. During the last World Cup, a survey involving 100 UK business leaders by telecoms and IT services provider Coms plc, estimated that the World Cup could result in a loss to British business of 250 million working hours.
A separate survey by employment law specialists ELAS put the potential cost of the 2014 World Cup to Britain’s employers at $5bn in lost productivity.
According to GulfTalent, given the nature of this year’s World Cup, the potential productivity loss is particularly high, and Middle East employers with poor or inadequate guidelines are likely to suffer a disproportionate amount of absenteeism and staff distraction.
However, only 16% of managers surveyed said their companies had a specific employee policy for the World Cup.
Where policies had been set up and communicated, some consisted mainly of punitive measures such as stricter time and attendance monitoring, official warnings, potential salary deductions, and making up hours missed.
Others reported more accommodating policies, such as giving employees time off if targets had been achieved, an ‘allowance’ of up to 3 early departures or late arrivals, giving permission to watch the games whenever the employee’s national team was playing, or even providing for collective game watching on company TV screens as a team building initiative.