Tips for HR: keeping your employees onside during Euro 2024 in summary:

  • With the Euro 2024 football championship taking place this summer, there’s several things HR teams can do to manage absence requests effectively and nurture engagement.
  • This includes ensuring absence policies are fit for purpose, can be accessed easily, and are applied fairly and consistently.
  • In addition, businesses may want to consider flexible working arrangements, engaging in tournament-themed activities, and relaxing dress codes (where appropriate).

For football fans – of which I count myself as one – this summer’s Euro 2024 football championship is one of the highlights of this year’s sporting calendar.

This year’s tournament, which takes place in Germany, kicks off on the 14th June, and culminates in the final on the 14th July. And, with 24 teams competing for glory this year – including home nations England and Scotland – you can be sure there’ll be a keen interest from millions of people across the UK in the month-long competition.

Tips for HR Keeping your employees onside during Euro 2024 Cezanne Blog

However, an outbreak of football fever during what is one of the year’s most challenging periods – particularly those in retail or service-based industries – could create a headache for people professionals… particularly when it comes to managing absences fairly and effectively.

For instance, what’s your company’s tactics for letting people watch potentially crucial matches during work hours? How do you handle employees who might celebrate a bit too hard and show up hungover, or not show up at all? And what about those last-minute absence requests from excited football fans?

Finding the middle ground between business needs and employee requests

Of course, countless employees would love some time off to enjoy the excitement of a summer sporting event like Euro 2024. But unfortunately, many employers just can’t afford that luxury.

Employers aren’t required to approve every holiday request, whether it’s to watch a football match or just to get away for a bit of R&R. The reality is that businesses might need everyone working hard to stay productive and profitable during the summer months.

Having said that, this year’s European Championships also offers a great chance for companies to boost staff engagement and team morale during what can often be a demanding time of year.

So, how can managers and people professionals keep productivity high and morale up among football-crazy staff who, let’s be honest, might rather be watching one of the biggest football tournaments in the world?

Here’s some tried and trusted strategies to keep employees engaged and motivated during Euro 2024…

Ensure your absence policies are on point!

Having a clear and easy-to-access absence policy can make a big difference in reducing unauthorised absences and maintaining workforce continuity. So, make sure your absence policy is up-to-date and easily accessible – ideally though an HR system with absence management software that includes employee self-service. This way, everyone can acclimatise themselves with the rules and processes for planned, unplanned, and unauthorised absences.

In addition, make sure your line managers are up to speed on your company’s policy and procedures for handling unexpected or unauthorised absences. If they’re unsure about the process, there’s a risk the policy will be applied inconsistently. This could annoy those hardworking employees who have to pick up the slack or even miss out themselves!

Make your absence decisions honest and transparent

As the tournament heats up and certain nations advance, line managers might get a flood of annual leave requests from excited employees – especially if crucial games occur during company working hours.

Turning down these requests can be awkward, especially if you’re already short-staffed. So, when and if this happens, it’s crucial for managers to tackle the situation directly with the employee to avoid ongoing issues.

Maybe too many people in the department are already off? Or there’s a major project that needs to be wrapped up? Or perhaps it’s one of the busiest times of year for the business and you need all hands on deck?

Whatever the reasons, being honest and transparent with your absence decisions are vital. By explaining why your people are needed at work, you can help soften the disappointment and make your employees feel more valued.

Think flexibly

If it doesn’t negatively affect the business, offering flexible working arrangements can be a great way to let employees enjoy Euro 2024.

For example, if a crucial game kicks off in the middle of the workday, and it’s doable for your business, why not let staff start and finish earlier? Or maybe they can bank overtime and take time off to watch the matches. This way, football fans can still complete their weekly hours and catch the game – a win-win for everyone!

If you haven’t tried flexible working before, it allows employees to fit their work schedule around their personal life. Whether it’s spending more time with their kids during the summer holidays or choosing hours that fit their activities. Giving them control over their work-life balance keeps morale high while ensuring the work gets done.

Nurture engagement with some Euro 2024-themed activities

Of course, not every job can have flexible hours. If your employees are meeting clients, greeting visitors, or working the shop floor, adopting unconventional hours might not be feasible. But don’t worry! You can still boost spirits and engagement with some fun Euro 2024-themed activities.

The classic footy sweepstake is a company favourite. But, you can also do smaller things, like offering match day snacks from the competing countries or screening games to keep morale high. Doing these will build camaraderie and provide a bit of fun for those who work in a traditional shared workspace.

And of course, don’t forget your remote or off-site staff – get them involved! For example, here at Cezanne, we run a fantasy football league every year and a tournament match prediction competition. Both are always a hit, even if I always end up doing terribly badly…

Consider employee shift swaps

If you have staff working shifts, think about letting them swap shifts with each other. Euro 2024 might be a big deal for footy fans, but not everyone is into football! So, your line managers could suggest employees who want to watch a game swap shifts with those who don’t care about football. That way, it’s a win-win for everyone!

Relax your dress code

Lastly, for employees who aren’t in customer-facing roles and work in a shared space, relaxing the dress code can really lift spirits. Or, you could even take it a step further…

To really encourage a sense of team spirit, you could suggest everyone to wear their national team jerseys. It’s a bit of harmless fun and a great way to boost morale for those who feel they’re missing out on the football festivities outside of work… Especially if certain teams progress into the latter half of the tournament.

Cezanne makes managing all types of absences easy - click here to discover how

Paul Bauer author image

Paul Bauer

Paul Bauer is the Head of Content at Cezanne HR. Based in the Utopia of Milton Keynes (his words, not ours!) he’s worked within the employee benefits, engagement and HR sectors for over four years. He's also earned multiple industry awards for his work - including a coveted Roses Creative Award.

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