Sylvain Allaire
Sylvain Allaire, HR pros incorporated

Those of you who can remember the Canada/USSR Summit hockey series (La Série du siècle in French) will recall the passion that overtook Canada that September in 1972. I recall schools closing early and special work arrangements being made so that folks could watch the games.   Everybody was talking about the Summit, it was in all the papers and on TV. More recently, Olympic Hockey fever captured our collective attention.

And now, another month-long event is capturing the attention of a lot of Canadians and of most of the world. The 2014 FIFA World Cup began on 12 June and will end on 13 July in Brazil. As important as hockey is to the fabric of  Canadians, soccer has similar impact on the lives of people around the world. In fact, for a lot of people, the World Cup is a more important event than the Olympics.

A word of advice: if you are dealing with customers overseas, you’d better check the World Cup schedule before scheduling an appointment or making that all important phone call.

A study conducted during the 2010 Olympics showed that contrary to what we might assume, the Olympics did not distract employees from their jobs. Rather, the Olympics created comradeship and engaged employees in the workplace. As a business owner, you might want to take advantage of the World Cup to increase employee engagement. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Team bonding. Use the backdrop of the World Cup for team bonding. Maybe schedule an outing to catch a big game or simply turn on the TV in the boardroom. Create a World Cup bulletin board where stats will be kept. Leverage this event and increase team cohesion and morale.
  2. Diversity.  Diversity is good for business, in fact it’s a competitive business advantage.   Where are your employees from? Where are your clients from?  Make it an occasion to learn about someone else’s culture. You might consider adopting teams that reflect the diversity of your employee and client bases.
  3. Consider flex time. You get the work done and those employees who are die-hard fans get to watch the important games without missing work. Employees who do not care for soccer can also benefit from the flex time schedule. This is a win-win situation.

By the way, Canada last qualified for the men’s World Cup in 1986 and will host the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Do you have suggestions on how to use the World Cup to your advantage?  We would be pleased to read them.

Sylvain Allaire is VP Sales and Marketing at HR pros incorporated.  HR pros helps its clients save time and resources by providing expert HR and OH&S consulting services to solve all types of HR issues (from hiring to firing).  HR pros also offers tailored HR training solutions.  HR pros has been a member of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce since 2009 and offers its services in both official languages.