I was on Radio 5 live just now discussing how bosses should deal with this football championship – in particular, what to do about skiving staff?

Here are a few key points:

  1. Staff morale is important – don’t be a killjoy for the sake of it! If you know your staff want to watch the football, think about how you can accommodate that. Maybe you can have a screen in the office.
  2. Business needs remain paramount. If you cannot cope with staff missing work, and if a screen in the office would be too distracting and bad for business, stick by that.
  3. Discuss it beforehand. Formulate a policy and your staff will know your expectations, and reasons. Football fans may hate you if you just tell them – “Come to work!” Hate is bad for workplace morale. But if they understand that you’re trying your best, they may well understand.
  4. And if they play truant despite your clear instructions? Well that’s a serious disciplinary matter. But be sure to have a fair investigation.
  5. Finally, in your decision making, be careful to treat all staff equally to avoid discrimination claims. For example, if you allow staff off for England matches, be sure to let French off for their matches. And what about other pastimes? Wimbledon? Maybe the makeup of the fan bases have different “protected characteristics” – more of one gender may be more into one sport. Think carefully.

Managers should not feel bad if work has to carry as normal. But, if a 90 minute break at 2pm works in your business – well, maybe this spoof request can be agreed to…