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Should Sporting Events Be Shown In The Office?

The World Cups, the Olympics, the Ashes, Wimbledon, the Open, the Euros. And Crufts. The calendar is full of major sporting events. For business owners, this can be as stressful as a semi-final shootout, as they face a deluge of leave requests when the big tournaments approach and absences once they’ve started.

One strategy for avoiding a deserted office and HR headache is allowing team members to watch from the comfort of the workplace. But is this a fleet-footed tactic or more akin to a red card offence?

In this article, the UK’s championship-winning company formation agent, 1st Formations, looks at whether or not you, the business owner, should show sporting events in the office. It’s the pros vs the cons. Let’s kick off.

The pros of showing sporting events

Encourages attendance

The best place to start is to reference what we’ve already mentioned. By allowing your employees to stream the big match from their desk or putting a screen up in a communal area of the office, the sports fans on your team are less likely to take the time off as part of their annual leave or call in sick on the day.

The former generally isn’t a problem as you can plan, ensuring you do have enough staff to get the required level of work done. However, it does become an issue if you have several members of your team wanting the same day off, as you then have the dilemma of choosing whose leave does get approved and whose doesn’t – something that can cause disharmony amongst the team.

Absence, on the other hand, is obviously a problem as you can’t typically prepare for this, and if you do experience mass sickness on the day, it’s probably indicative of a more serious disciplinary issue that you have.

Nonetheless, by allowing your employees to watch the event from work, you will be encouraging them to attend work on the day in question, saving you from mass holiday/sickness.

Good for company culture

Provided that you’re willing to give everyone a couple of hours off work, a big sporting occasion is a great opportunity to get the whole office together for a team-building activity.

As well as screening the event in a shared space so that everyone can watch together, you could also order in some food (our advice… pizza), and if your team can be trusted, perhaps a few beers each (being sure to also provide non-alcoholic options). If your business has a charity partnership in place, you could also make this a fundraising event. For example, you could:

  • Ask employees to make a small donation to watch the event
  • Hold an office sweepstake for the event whereby the winner gets half of the pot and the charity gets the other half (here’s how to ensure your sweepstake is legal)
  • Encourage your team to make a small donation and wear event-appropriate fancy dress

All of this, combined with screening the sporting occasion, will give your team the chance to spend some valuable time together in a non-work capacity.

Creates goodwill

The sports fans on your team will be grateful to you for the opportunity to be able to watch the event. As well as being beneficial to your overall company culture, this will help strengthen the bond between your employees and your business.

Whilst it’s probably only for a handful of hours in the working day, by screening the sporting event, you are demonstrating that you care about their work-life balance. Of course, it’s only sport, but this is a clear indication that you care about your staff and value their pastimes – even when it affects working life.

In the long term, this will benefit you and your business as it will lead to an increase in loyalty and give you some sway when you do need to ask employees to go above and beyond what is normally expected. For example, if you do need to ask someone to work overtime, they will remember the goodwill you showed when you allowed them the time off to watch the occasion.

Humanises your brand

Businesses large and small are often keen to show off the people behind the brand. It’s why the majority of ‘About Us’ pages include a meet the team feature, and also one of the reasons why a lot of businesses have a presence on social media – to give a personality to the business.

Any non-work activity within the workplace is an opportunity to show off the company’s culture. It shows that, yes, you take work seriously, but you also value your people and want them to enjoy being at work.

As well as, again, increasing the loyalty your current employees feel towards you, showing sporting and events and then posting about these on your social media channels can give a face to your business for customers (and business partners), and act as a useful recruitment tool – as you can showcase your flourishing company culture to candidates.

The cons of showing sporting events

Production takes a hit

If you choose to show a sporting event during working hours, the amount of work that your team gets done on the day is obviously going to suffer. Even if you opt against screening the occasion in a communal space and only allow individuals to watch alone from their desks, work levels are no doubt going to be affected.

Even if you request that employees make up the time by coming in early or working late, the anticipation of the event and the post-match debrief is still going to have an impact on how productive your team are – especially if you have selected to make a big deal out of the event by putting on food, drinks, and other activities (which in itself requires time to organise).

It’s not always inclusive

Not everyone will be a sports fan. By deciding to organise a team event around a sporting occasion, you’re at risk of ostracising the people in the office who have no interest in watching. In turn, this could lead to resentment on their part, as they may feel forced to watch, but would actually rather perform their day-to-day job.

Furthermore, the larger sporting events, such as the football World Cup, can be passionate affairs. This can make some team members uncomfortable. Perhaps the boisterousness that the event evokes brings on unease, which could lead to someone being (or feeling) targeted.

This means that rather than act as a catalyst for cultivating a fantastic company culture, showing a sporting event could backfire and lead to diversions in the workplace.

Technical difficulties

When you have chosen against screening the event for everyone in a shared space but are allowing anyone who is interested to watch from their desks, you will need to consider how numerous people streaming from their computers is going to impact your internet.

If a large number of people do choose to watch, you are likely to find that this will slow down the office network and internet access. Because of this, if you are considering showing the event, we recommend discussing it with your IT specialist before making the commitment, to ensure the whole office isn’t brought to a standstill.

In addition to this, you should also look into the legalities of showing a particular event in a workplace, as you may inadvertently fall foul of broadcasting rules. For example, if the event is being shown on the BBC, your business should have the necessary TV License.

Issues with alcohol

As previously mentioned, sporting events can be highly passionate. When mixed with alcohol, this can often invite trouble. In offices where alcohol is made available, it’s easy for sporting events to get out of control as it can prove difficult to contain your team once the event has finished.

On top of the general problems associated with alcohol use, drinking to excess in the workplace is problematic for a number of reasons:

  • It can lead to disagreements and other inappropriate behaviours amongst team members
  • It impacts productivity and quality of work – not only on the day but also the day after depending on how much alcohol is consumed
  • Cultural differences may mean that not everyone in your team is comfortable around alcohol

Unfortunately, sporting events and alcohol do tend to go hand-in-hand. By showing a sporting event, your team members may expect you to also provide alcohol. By simply not showing any major sporting event, you will be saving yourself the bother of having to deal with any drink-related fallout.

The full-time whistle

So, there you have it, those are the pros and cons of showing sporting events in the office. We hope you find this article useful as you make this key refereeing decision. Thanks for reading.

1st Formations is the UK’s top-rated company formation agent. They have helped register more than 1 million UK limited companies for entrepreneurs across the globe. Companies are formed entirely online with generally no paperwork required and are often registered in only 3 – 6 hours. Check if your company name is available now.

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