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Blog : World Cup bug


World Cup bug

Nearly one in ten (8%) employees would consider taking a sick day when they are not ill during the World Cup, according to the latest research from Canada Life Group Insurance. Replicated in the working population, this equates to 2.4 million employees, suggesting a significant loss to the productivity of organisations across the country.

The survey found that on average employees would take a total of 1.8 days of sick leave when they’re not ill during the World Cup, although over a third (35%) would take two to three days off, and 7% would take four to five. Some dedicated football fans would even consider taking more than seven working days of unnecessary sick leave (4%) during the tournament.

With Brazil as the venue for this year’s World Cup, the time difference has a significant role to play in the likelihood of employees pulling sickies before or after a match. Almost half (46%) said that the time difference meant they are more likely to take sick leave when they are not ill during the tournament, as several matches kick off as late as 11pm, meaning they will go on well into the night.

Whilst getting into the thrilling atmosphere of Rio is exciting and certainly adds some “Mardis-gras”-like spirit to the tournament, the effect of this can mean that the late kick-offs combined with early morning drinking could cause 40% of employees to be more likely to call in sick the next day. Throw in a sunny match day at a further third would be more inclined to pull a sickie.

As the World Cup only comes around once every four years, it’s an event that a lot of people don’t want to miss out on. It’s therefore important that employers do their best to prevent the ‘World Cup Bug’ spreading and resulting in empty offices. We recommend:

Asking how you can help them do their job and enjoy the game
Rather than hoping for bad weather or a national alcohol shortage, employers should consider engaging with their workforce to understand the ways in which they can support each other collaboratively at this emotionally-charged time. Having an honest discussion with employees about what they need to keep them motivated, healthy and productive can pay dividends in the long run.

Exploring flexible or remote working
In our research, 35% of employees cited flexible working as the offering which would most discourage them from taking unnecessary sick leave during the World Cup.  Similarly, almost a third (30%) would be persuaded to turn up to work if they had the ability to work from their home.

Making it a team game
Whilst it’s unlikely you’ll be in work during live matches, there’s no reason you can’t bring the match-day spirit to your office. Put re-runs of the games on screens, run World Cup competitions, sweepstakes, quizzes, and this organisation has even hung the 32 team flags around the office. You could even bring in snack items from the countries playing on those days. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how long England are in the game, use the celebration as an opportunity to bring the team together and enhance engagement.

With one in 10 employees prepared to call in sick over the next few weeks, if you haven’t consider your plan to combat absence then do so now. It could just take asking one question about how people would like to work which, in turn, could make them even more productive. Result!!


Paul Avis is Marketing Director of Canada Life Group Insurance, providing life insurance, income protection and critical illness insurance to employees across the world. For more information visit the Canada Life website - www.canadalife.co.uk/group

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