Once again the World Cup is upon us and offices everywhere are buzzing with the excitement of past, present and future games. But in this haze of activity employers are in danger of falling foul to reduced productivity and small businesses could lose out in more ways than one when it comes to this national obsession.
Not only could smaller organisations be in line to feel the pinch with staff chucking sickies, but small business software specialist Softalk warns that they could also risk being dragged through the courts if they don’t keep an eye on their company email system while the joviality of football takes hold.
Thousands of small and medium size businesses could face legal action if employees use their email system to send emails sharing copyrighted video clips and photographs during the World Cup. Boing Boing, the world’s most popular blog, has already received a letter from corporate lawyers warning it not to share or publish copyright World Cup video clips and Softalk’s joint CEO Simon Bates said: “Small businesses can protect themselves by showing that they have taken reasonable steps to prevent the illegal circulation of World Cup videos but they must also show that they are enforcing it by updating the rules and filters available in their email server software.
In large companies it is common practice to have an email policy in place but many smaller businesses simply do not realise they could be at risk if they don’t. Mr Bates went on to say that by using specific email servers, small businesses could easily set up filters to block inappropriate content but the lack of knowledge in this area could pose a problem. The best thing to do if you are a small business is to get some professional advice on this because football or no football, as your company grows, so does the potential for employees to exploit their work email account.
When it comes to sickies, the World Cup throws up plenty of opportunity for less than honest behaviour, either to watch a game or following a hard session during a game, so how can you successfully get around this? Some companies take the opinion that it is best to ensure productivity by getting in the spirit of things and some forward-thinking companies have got around it quite well by installing a TV into a communal area and letting staff watch the games and then work a longer lunch-break to make the time up. One thing to be particularly aware of, though, is our multicultural society. There may be various games that your employees want to watch so it is both advisable and sensible to have clear guidelines set out before you commence with this option.
With the buzz that the world cup creates it might just be a smart employer who decides to take that energy and aim it right back into their business. After all, if your staff are allowed to watch games then their buoyant attitude and the camaraderie this creates between colleagues, could end up having a beneficial effect on productivity.