Aussies most likely to call in sick to watch sporting events: How to handle sport-related sickies in your business

Watching sport on TV

Australian workers are at the top of the leaderboard when it comes to calling in sick to watch an international sporting event, according to a survey of human resources managers conducted by recruitment firm Robert Half.

But the Robert Half survey also found those businesses that choose to host company events to watch sports report seeing a boost in employee engagement and motivation, which means with the 2016 Rio Olympics well and truly underway, it may be an opportune time to capture some sporting fever in the office.

The survey, which was conducted in April, is part of an annual study into workplace trends. It included responses from more than 1,600 human resources managers from 12 countries, including 100 managers in Australia.

Close to 90% of the the Australian HR managers surveyed (87%) said it likely at least one of their employees will call in sick or make an excuse to skip work on the day after a major sporting event, with 22% saying employee sick days are “very likely” after major sporting events.

Together with New Zealand, Australia topped the list of countries where employees are most likely to chuck a sickie after a major sporting event, with Brazil (84%) and Chile (80%) following closely behind.

In Germany, 76% of HR managers said it likely their employees will take a day off, which is similar to Switzerland, where 75% of HR managers believe it is likely their workers will miss a day at work. At 61%, the Netherlands was the country with the lowest percentage of HR managers expecting employee sick days after major sports events.

However, just under half of the same sample of HR managers (42%) said hosting company events to watch major sporting events increases engagement among their employees, and 40% said such occasions boost employee motivation. Close to a third of managers surveyed (31%) said such events can help foster employee loyalty.

Find out what your employees are passionate about

Eve Ash, psychologist and chief executive of workplace training company Seven Dimensions, told SmartCompany instead of “fighting against” employees taking time off to watch or participate in sporting events, business owners and managers should seek to “uncover the passions” of those in their teams and embrace them.

“The companies that start to understand what’s important to their staff are going to lead the way,” says Ash.

Ash says while many businesses have adopted flexible working arrangements for parents who wish to spend more time with their children, it’s important for managers to also understand the other aspects of their employees’ lives that they feel strongly about, including sport.

This could lead to hosting company events where employees can watch matches or races together, or it may involve being flexible when it comes to team members who want to leave early once a week to attend training for their local sports team, says Ash.

“Let’s uncover the passions of the people who work for our businesses, and then manage and support it,” says Ash.

“It’s saying, let’s look at how people work best.”


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5 years ago

Pose them this question:

Do they want to earn an income so they can enjoy a decent lifestyle?

If they answer yes then just tell them to turn up to work or there will be no business to come back to. If they want time off, then they arrange it formally so it can be planned and they have a job to come back to. It’s a condition of employment. Simple.

5 years ago

An explanation (not an excuse) as to why Australia heads the list is because of our time difference. Major sporting events in other parts of the world tend to be shown late at night or early hours of the morning.