HR Today: Employee engagement – the World Cup experience

Sports is widely enjoyed the world over, millions of people have interest in many sporting activities.

Football, however, is the most watched and participated sporting activity one can think of. With time, it has become a business activity unlike many decades ago where it was purely for entertainment. There is the commercial aspect of football where individuals and organizations can maximize a lot of revenue from as well as increase brand awareness.

In a few days from now, the world will experience the 21st FIFA World Cup, a quadrennial international football tournament being hosted by Russia, 32 teams will battle for the coveted trophy in a total of 64 matches at 10 stadia. The global viewership is estimated to be in excess of the 2014 World Cup figure of 3.2 billion TV viewings. Football enthusiasts and pundits as well as sports journalists and commentators are ready to participate in this year’s tournament – either by watching the games, betting on matches, commentaries and dairies of events from the game centres – this euphoria has even attracted football newbies who are on the fringes waiting for the commencement of the most talked about tournament.

The World Cup fever has taken over workplaces around the world with discussions and arguments on which teams are the tournament favorites and the best players they expect to exhibit skills and score the best of goals. Majority of the prospective viewers and football fanatics are of the working class and will be at work during the one-month period of the tournament. It is very likely that they will love to enjoy the games, especially the once that will be played during working hours.

In previous tournaments one needed to be by his/her TV set or listen to radio commentary and in rare circumstances be at the stadium to view the game but with the invention of smart phones, it is very easy to access the matches through live streaming on social media apps. Employees can be sitting by their workstations under the pretense of working but may be viewing the matches on their phones.

It’s pretty much foreseeable that your employees will find a way to watch the games they care about, and the productivity lost during that time is similarly obvious. HR and organizations must be a step ahead by developing and designing means by which employees can be productive while they enjoy the game.

Working hours can be rescheduled to accommodate viewing of some selected matches, there are high profile matches that will attract a lot of discussions and viewership especially from the knockout stages. Not every employee will want to watch these matches and for this reason it can be arranged in such a manner that passionate soccer fans can start work earlier than the normal working hours or possibly add their lunch breaks to their working time –  they can therefore close early and have the opportunity of viewing these matches.

The World Cup can be an opportunity to engage in some Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) venture, employees can make some little financial contribution and request of Management to support them in planting green grass or the erecting of goal post for a school in the community within which they operate. This activity will boost employee engagement, increase brand visibility and image awareness. This will enhance the development and attraction of football talent from the grassroots. Such activities can be planned such that branded jerseys of teams and players with company logo/trademark will be procured for this purposes.

Organizations can partner game centres together with some media houses for live coverage and commentaries on the tournament, this will be a good time to appreciate our soccer pundits who can be engaged in pre and post-match interviews and discussions. Such discussions boost employee self-confidence and brings them to the limelight on their knowledge in football – it will again become a selling point since the brand will be situated well for the many viewers the world over.

Roadshows can be organized with tertiary institutions for viewing and discussions on the tournament, business prospects can be created by introducing and selling company products to these potential customers amidst face painting, jama competitions, question and answer session etc. as preparation ahead of the matches – students can answer questions for a souvenir.

This period can be a moment where organizations can demonstrate that it has data on its employees, most organization do not keep data on its football enthusiasts but by observation and discussion that occurs in the office, HRs may have a fair idea of who loves sports and football to be precise. Special branded footballs and jerseys with their names, teams they support and company logo can be presented to them – this will be much appreciated by these individuals. There is also the minority female football supporters who must be noticed and encouraged, they can be given time off to engage in studio discussions amongst others means participating in the World Cup event.

On dress down days like Fridays, branded jerseys and other paraphernalia can be worn – quiz competitions can be organized for staff who will answer questions on the World Cup – this will generate massive excitement and boost employee morale in the office.

World Cup games can be viewed on a big screen in the conference rooms or canteens of your company. The energy around the office will be awesome; everyone will feel more connected to their co-workers and the products and services we work together on. This will make a big difference. There is the positive energy from watching the World Cup together – it will be carried over into the work. The effect will especially be strong with our new hires and interns who may not have encountered such a moment before.

Social media followers can be engaged through live streaming of matches – discussions, arguments and counter-arguments can be held on the company’s social media pages. Dedicated and knowledgeable company representatives can interact and answer questions from customers from around the world, this will increase the social media following.

The focus should not be about how to minimize productivity lost, but how we could boost long term engagement and relationship by taking advantage of the tournament. It’s a nice way of launching work-life balance during the World Cup tournament.

If your workplace screams at a scene or yells, “Gooallll!” in unison, it becomes the clearest indication that you’re doing something right.

By Bright Ampadu Okyere | Tel. #: 0244204664 | Email Address: hrtoday@gmail.com

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