It’s summer 2021 and football is back with a vengeance. After a year of enforced isolation, diehard fans are desperate to get back to the ground…and HR teams are facing a tsunami of leave requests and absenteeism.

Anyone with personnel experience will have learned that staff members who’re going to try ‘pulling a sickie’ are much more likely to do so during popular sporting events. Wimbledon, the Ashes, the World Cup and the Ryder Cup are among the headliners that have elicited bad behaviour in the past, and will again in future.

Human nature being what it is, we recommend that HR professionals view the present bout of ‘football crazies’ as a learning experience. The management techniques that get you through the Euros of 2020 will be equally applicable to other fixtures in other years.

Here’s our checklist for HR teams.

Give ’em an education

Staff, especially junior ones, often fail to understand the economic impact of ‘pulling a sickie’. Taking small groups into a meeting room and sharing some choice spreadsheets can be all it takes to raise awareness. Set your sights low! With entry-level staff, you’ll be doing well if you get them to advance-book their leave days, rather than phoning you in the morning.

Plan ahead

You may not be a fan yourself, but a smart personnel manager will always keep track of all the upcoming fixtures. Who was off last time, and how many people did you need to cover? Checking last year’s reports will equip you to book appropriate temporary cover this year.

Play fair

Like sportsmen and schoolkids, staff have a highly-developed sense of fair play. A popular fixture is likely to result in a stack of leave requests, some of which you’ll need to turn down. Our advice is to stick as close as you can to ‘first come, first served’. For the ones you can’t let go, how about setting up a TV in a meeting room? Lay on some grown-up soft drinks and half-time pizza and make an event of it. Chances are you’ll only lose an hour or two’s productive work from each spectator.

Stay flexible…

Thanks to the COVID-related need to implement social distancing, we’ve seen a growing interest in flexible working hours. Allowing people to start or finish early or late, or even to swap their shifts, will contribute to reduced infection rates…and provide an enhanced sense of independence.

Wouldn’t a sporting event be a great opportunity to introduce this new regime? It’s also a great opportunity to book a 30-day free trial and experience using LeavePlanner’s slick online time management functions in place of paper timesheets.

…but don’t bend over backwards

Despite your best efforts, it’s likely that you’ll still get a few ‘same day sickies’…and that you’ll recognise the names involved. (If not, LeavePlanner’s absence management system will help you to highlight these ‘repeat offenders’.) We recommend implementing a ‘return to work’ process. Making it through a hostile interview, or even a tough questionnaire, will focus the miscreants’ minds wonderfully.

LeavePlanner is an incredibly cost-effective absence management system. Contact us now to arrange your 30-day free trial today.

For any queries, call Steve on 01252 636 070 or email