More than a third (35 percent) of UK employees feel that this month’s European Championships will cause a surge in unauthorised absence, a new survey has found.

According to recent research1 from Kronos Incorporated, the Euros will have the biggest impact on absence and associated productivity issues for workers in the UK in 2016. The football tournament will kick off a series of sporting events that could negatively impact business productivity, with Wimbledon (18 percent) and the Rio Olympic Games (11 percent), topping the list of key upcoming sporting events that could spark fake sick days.

One third of survey respondents admitted to taking a sick day when they weren’t actually sick in the last 12 months, leaving businesses short-staffed and putting undue pressure on other employees.

Nearly three quarters of respondents (73 percent) believe their colleagues have “thrown a sickie” this year when they have not been ill. With one in five respondents (18 percent) believing that fellow workers take up to six false sick days every 12 months. More worryingly, 65 percent of respondents do not fear the consequences of taking an unauthorised day off. Leaving this behaviour unchecked can demotivate co-workers and impact employee engagement.

One of the biggest causes of unauthorised absences is employers and managers that show a lack of flexibility when it comes to annual leave policies. Almost one in five respondents (19 percent) claimed that these rigid policies are the reason they do not turn up for work.

Flexibility was rated as one of the top workforce perks by 41 percent of respondents, allowing organisations to balance the demands of their customers with the preferred working hours of employees, thereby minimising the need for workers to fake sick days to watch their favourite sports.

“This summer’s sporting events will pose a real challenge to the ways in which organisations handle absenteeism. The key to success lies in open communication with employees and forward planning. When managers know that absences are more likely to occur they should acknowledge the events and speak with employees to determine who is likely to be off as a consequence. With this information, managers can schedule staff accordingly to mitigate any disruption to customers, fellow colleagues, and the organisation. Demonstrating willingness to accommodate employee needs, and allowing them to enjoy these sporting events and their leisure time goes a long way to improving employee engagement and ultimately results in higher levels of productivity and performance. With the appropriate advanced workforce scheduling tools, organisations can actually use these events to their advantage,” commented Neil Pickering, industry and customer insight manager at Kronos.