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“As the Rugby World Cup sweeps the nation, employers who plan ahead and incorporate the event into their team building plans will make the most of the event,” said Phil Sheridan, UK managing director of Robert Half. Image by Peter Baugh (licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0).

Business and HR leaders across the UK will allow employees to escape the transport scrum and leave their desks early to watch the Rugby World Cup 2015.  Nearly three-quarters (73%) of UK firms will allow employees the flexibility to watch matches according to new research from recruitment specialists Robert Half UK. Of those, more than one in five (22%) will always offer flexi-time or early finishes to watch the game. With games kicking off on weekdays as early as 14:30 employers are allowing workers who traditionally work nine to five significant leeway to catch all the rugby action.

Increasingly companies see the cohesive benefits of coming together to enjoy a sporting spectacle and emotionally invest in the event.  Companies that embrace ‘RWC 2015’ are expected to generate significant benefits, more than half (54%) of HR directors believing Rugby World Cup themed activities in the workplace will have a positive impact on employee morale. Only five percent of HR directors believe RWC 2015 will have a negative impact on their workplace, disrupting employee morale.

“Companies increasingly recognise that allowing employees flexibility has a positive effect on morale and also productivity,” says Phil Sheridan, UK Managing Director of Robert Half, “In the growing war to attract talent, employers who are seen to be providing their employees with autonomy and rewarding their staff will be more attractive to potential candidates.”

Employers in London are the most accommodating when it comes allowing workers time off to watch RWC 2015, with almost a third (30%) of employers set to allow flexi-time or early finishes for all employees.  Employers in the Midlands are overall the least accommodating when it comes to allowing employees to watch the sporting action.

Regional breakdown of organisations willing to allow flexitime or early finishes to allow employees to watch RWC 2015

Region Always offer flexible working options Sometimes offer flexible options based on the employee
London 30% 63%
South West & Wales 25% 50%
Midlands 25% 33%
North of England 18% 50%
Scotland 13% 58%

Source: Robert Half UK, 2015

The annual study was developed by Robert Half UK and is conducted by an independent research firm. The study is based on more than 200 interviews with senior HR executives from companies across the UK, with the results segmented by size, sector and geographic location. In addition to announcing their research findings, Robert Half have offered ideas on how to incorporate the Rugby World Cup festivities into the workplace:

  • Allow teams to wear rugby jerseys for the country they are supporting for ‘casual Friday’
  • Decorate the office with rugby merchandise to engage people with the tournament
  • Organise an office touch rugby competition one evening during the tournament, encouraging team bonding
  • Have the matched playing on the office TV, that way people can stay up-to-date with the tournament if they aren’t able to take advantage of flexible options to work around the game
  • Host staff viewing parties,  put the matches on a screen in a meeting room and encourage employees to watch the games together
  • Encourage employees to compete in RWC 2015 fantasy leagues – as they pick their ultimate team for the tournament

“As the Rugby World Cup sweeps the nation, employers who plan ahead and incorporate the event into their team building plans will make the most of the event,” said Sheridan. “Many businesses will be hoping for a repeat of the ‘Olympic’ effect when the country came together, creating an incredible atmosphere that was great for businesses and their employees.”

Feature image – “England world cup winners” by BombDog – http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonlucas/1555930/. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons