Why The World Cup Gives Employers Headaches


Not everyone's excited that the World Cup kicked off on Thursday. For employers around the world, the month-long soccer fest may provide a serious headache.

The 2010 tournament caused the world's overall economic output and productivity to slump at impressive rates, according to an analysis by InsideView, a sales data and intelligence firm. Some highlights: the U.K. lost $7.3 billion in decreased economic output and U.S. companies lost 10 minutes of productivity per day. Put simply, when an estimated 80 percent of the world's population tunes in to watch soccer's foremost event, they stop working and their companies lose money as a result.

A report from the Employment Law Alliance outlines the obstacles employers could face during this year's World Cup. Let's take a look at some employee no-no's that have infamously caused their bosses some serious stress.

People Stop Showing Up For Work
AP Photo/Eric Risberg
One of the most common challenges employers may face is staff members not showing up for work. In the U.K., a match between England and Algeria in 2010 notoriously led to nearly half of the British workforce playing hooky. 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.

Some employers are trying to curb the trend. In 2010, eight out of 10 McDonald's employees in the U.K. took advantage of the company's flexible hours policy during the games. Also in England, Credit Suisse used the monitors in its trading rooms to screen the games.
Distracted Workforce = An Unproductive Workforce
The New York Times reports that during the World Cup in Italy in 1990, "it was hard to get a meal while the host team was playing, because all waiters had their eyes glued to the television screens." Twenty-four years later, little has changed. In an attempt to spare employees the dilemma, host country Brazil has allowed cities to decide whether their employees must work on game days.
The Internet Gets Reaaaaallllyyyy Slow
For many employees forced to be at the office on game days, streaming a match online could be a simple solution to watch the tournament. But since streaming takes up a large amount of bandwidth, this approach can cause some serious problems for the tech guys.

In 2010, Japanese brokerage firm Nomura Holdings Inc. took preventative action and set up personalized Internet stations in its European offices so that streaming wouldn't interfere with the company's network.
Not Everyone Stays Sober
It's no secret that there is a correlation between drunkenness and sporting events. It's also no secret that being intoxicated or hungover is not always the most productive or professional state of mind at work. According to The Telegraph, an intoxicated employee from PVM Oil Futures drunkenly bought $540 million worth of oil for the firm while attending a sporting event in 2010. While not all World Cup-related intoxicated behavior will lead to what ended up being a $9.7 million loss for the company, the possibility of drunken employees can send chills down any employer's spine.

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