Top tips to help employers win this Six Nations

Here, Adrian Lewis, director, Activ Absence for employers, explores how businesses can manage staff during the Six Nations.

The Six Nations rugby tournament is underway with the second round this weekend and excitement building for England who is attempting to take an unprecedented third consecutive title.

This may not be great news though for Britain’s employers who are likely to be seeing an increase in employees with hangovers and a rise in sickness absence and presenteeism with matches taking place on both Saturday and Sunday, says Adrian Lewis, director at Activ Absence.

Lewis says, ‘A Sunday match usually means an increase in ‘Sickie Mondays’ as people recover from a weekend of over-indulgence and a rise in calls from employees experiencing ‘travel delays’ so they can start work later. Similarly, Saturday games often see workers trying to sneak off early to travel to the game.

‘On the flip side rugby fans that make it into work after a big match could be below par, reducing productively as they struggle to recover at their desks. However, with planning employers can minimise the impact on the workplace and ensure it’s business as usual over the next few weeks.’

Adrian offers the following tips to help employers manage staff during the Six Nations:

Reinforce expected behaviour ahead of time – given the intense competition between nations, it’s important to communicate the kind of language and behaviour that isn’t acceptable in the workplace. National pride can’t be allowed to create conflict in the workplace, so make sure nobody feels bullied and that any workplaces discussions are good natured and inclusive, whichever nation your workplace is located in.

Don’t forget presenteeism – while it’s commendable that people come into work despite a hangover, if they are not capable of working they will damage productivity. Also operating machinery or driving whilst still under the influence of alcohol is dangerous and in some cases illegal. Decide what your policies regarding alcohol and hangovers are and make sure the policy is circulated and enforced.

Have a clear absence management plan – employers will benefit by keeping an eye on key sporting fixtures for their region. Remind staff on your policy on sickness absence. More than half of employed adults believe their work performance is negatively impacted when attendance policies are not fairly enforced throughout an organisation, so make sure sickness absence rules apply equally to management and staff.

Educate your staff – staff often don’t realise that short term absence has a big impact on the company’s bottom line and is more disruptive to the business than long term sickness. You could subtly discourage sickies by asking staff if they want to book Friday or Monday off ahead of the weekend fixtures (so they know their excuses are not likely to work).

Use return-to-work forms and interviews – sporting sickies almost always have repeat offenders, but managers need data if they want to challenge people who may be taking sickies that aren’t genuine. Absence management software can help spot trends and record data from back to work interviews. Recognising patterns gives managers the tools they need to tackle the problem. Once a pattern of absence is identified they can determine what action to take – and prompt action avoids escalation.

Get rid of staff planning spreadsheets – instead of using spreadsheets for staff planning, which are prone to error, computer crashes and offer zero in the way of reporting and analysis, think about investing in absence management software.

It’s designed for the job and will pay for itself in the long run by reducing sickness absence, improving staff engagement and streamlining reporting, as well as giving useful data enabling better targeting of wellness budgets.

Further reading on managing employees during Six Nations

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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