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World Cup vs work: time for creativity

Employers can expect to find more than a few staff asleep on the job during the World Cup, but human resources experts say productivity doesn't have to suffer if companies discuss the rules with staff in advance.

Thai companies should communicate clearly with employees and discuss flexible approaches to help staff maintain a work/life balance while still being fully committed to work, according to Adecco, the Switzerland-based personnel services firm.

The time difference with Brazil means most of the football matches start at 2 or 3am (a few begin at 11pm), so it's unavoidable that some people will show up late for work or call in sick, said Tidarat Kanchanawat, Adecco's regional director for Thailand and Vietnam.

Ms Tidarat recommended that companies start by following the World Cup themselves as part of a strategy to make employees feel happy and engaged about their work.

She said employees and their supervisors should have agreements allowing staff to submit quality work within specific deadlines, but they might not have to do it during the normal 9-to-5 office hours but instead work flexible hours.

Discussions on annual leave should also be raised in case some employees want to take a day off after an important match.

At the same time, she said, football-crazy employees should be reminded to be considerate of colleagues who have no interest in the World Cup.

The recruitment firm suggested that companies could use the event to create activities that foster relationships within the organisation, such as contests centred on which teams will win.

For example, management can get the staff to submit a vote for their favourite team. Prizes for winning the contest can vary from gift vouchers to company perks such as additional days off.

Ms Tidarat said that managing people during a big event like the World Cup was not only about ensuring effective business operations, but also an opportunity for organisations to show all their staff that they want to help them create a work/life balance.

The tournament opens on June 12 and runs until July 13.