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Rugby World Cup - passion or poison

Published 13 Sep 2019

Everywhere you look it’s there – Rugby World Cup 2019 has arrived. From advertisements to endorsements to competitions, you are sure to be aware, if not excited about the big event.

But why do you need to read about this in your employment forum? No we are not selling anything nor endorsing any team, this article is about what happens during such major sport events and the effect on our workplace/workforce. Mostly the effect on your workplace should be a positive one, increasing communication/interaction, breaking down hierarchical boundaries and increasing customer relations (great conversations starters between fellow employees and customers), promoting team work and much more.

Although covering all the possible issues arriving in the workplace due to such events will be near to impossible, the following are a few habitual ones that might not always have the desired effect.

Workplace banter

New Zealand, being multicultural and highly passionate about sports, we are bound to have rivalry in the workplace. Depending on the nature of your business and/or the setup of your workspace, this friendly rivalry can be controlled and even uplift morale. However, as we know some employees may abuse and/or misuse the sociability allowed for it in the workplace. We then also have religious sport fans, these employees may have different opinions and tolerances, and perhaps struggle to draw the line between sociability and hostility. It’s vital to insure that workplace banter, if allowed, be properly managed. This can be done by way of a written policy, a refresher of your current policy and/or a brief communication as to acceptable and unacceptable banter.

Workplace events

The Rugby World Cup offers a great opportunity for social get-togethers at the workplace and/or arranged by the employer. These types of events are encouraged by the pressure to be the employer of choice. However, they are not without risks. The employer creates the environment and therefore also carries some form of liability/responsibility. Should the event allow for alcohol consumption it's strongly suggested that a limitation as to the amount of alcohol provided, alternative types of transport is encouraged and overall behaviour and conduct is managed.Good host responsibility is the standard to achieve.

Events at the workplace needs to still abide by your current Health and Safety rules. Events that are held off site should be similar to your off duty conduct rules. Some of which will be linked to the fortification and protection of the company’s good name/brand.

All employers should have an off-duty conduct policy and if such does not exist this creates a great opportunity to implement the same.  

Time off and/or access to view the games

Due to the global time difference, games will mostly be late afternoon and evenings. Should your employees be scheduled to work during games that they are interested in, you may be flooded by leave requests and/or requests to view the games while at work. How you address these requests will again be determined by your specific operations requirements.

Allowing time off is at the discretion of the employer and although employees might feel very strongly about their teams, leave can be declined.

Allowing employees to view games at work, either in a communal area or on a form of electronic device again will be at the discretion of the company. Should employees be in positions where their full attention is needed it's recommended to ensure that those staff know their boundaries and what is expected and/or not allowed.

Addressing above issues in a proactive manner can save your business time and resources. Especially if disciplinary measures need to be taken after the event. For all policies mentioned clients can refer to their Employers Toolbox Library, non members can purchase our Workplace Policy Pack separately if needed. Please contact us directly for any additional assistance.