So, you thought LeBron and the NBA were popular, eh? Get ready to have your mind blown.
Soccer and the World Cup are far more popular worldwide than the NBA Finals. Consider:
— According to data analyst firm Umbel, in the last World Cup, the women’s final was watched by more Americans than the NBA Finals.
— A 2014 ESPN poll found that among 12-17 year olds, the second most popular sport in America after the NFL is soccer. Indeed, among that age group, Major League Soccer (MLS) is tied with Major League Baseball in popularity.
— And, according to 2015 Adobe Digital Index data, social media buzz for some soccer events has been doubling every year.
So a word to the wise: With the month-long quadrennial World Cup under way, go with the flow and allow the folks in your office who are so inclined to enjoy the spectacle because let’s face it, you are not going to be able to contain their excitement anyway.
Indeed, there is nothing quite as passionate as a soccer fan when their home country is playing a match in the World Cup.
If you have international employees, or a younger staff, it’s likely that they will want to watch or listen to the World Cup matches. Trying to stop them would be very short-sighted. Better – create an employee-friendly business, a fun one even, and treat your staff like adults. If that means tolerating World Cup mania, so be it. If it even means bringing in and turning on a TV, maybe that is what you need to do.
What you will find (and I bet likely know already) is that employees who have fun at work, who are treated with respect and appreciation and who are not overworked, are not only more productive, they are more creative to boot.
This does mean that you will have to bend some rules. Most companies have policies regarding Internet use, tardiness, and the like. But one of the beautiful things about small businesses is that bending the rules is easier. Bend them like Beckham (you knew that was coming!)
What does being World Cup-friendly mean? Likely, this:
Internet: It goes without saying that those who will be following the World Cup will be, well, following the World Cup. That means they will be checking their phones and using work computers to check scores, news updates and the like.
All you can do is to remind them that while you are OK with all the hoopla, you still expect them to get their work done.
Television: If a big match is on during work hours, do you let those who want to watch, watch?
Yes. If they can get their work done and still enjoy Argentina beating Mexico, sweet.
Absences: If you have a transparent policy about the World Cup, and you still find that certain employees are inclined to miss work for a match, the best way to go is to treat it as a vacation day. It is their choice if that is what they want to do.
Finally, keep July 16 in mind: That is the date of the World Cup final. Don’t expect the soccer faithful to get a lot to get done that day. Why? Because they will be waiting to hear that magical word,
Today’s Tip: Speaking of fun, my friend and colleague Joel Comm recently wrote a great book on the subject called, The Fun Formula. Maybe the subtitle says it best: How Curiosity, Risk-Taking, and Serendipity Can Revolutionize How You Work. It’s a winner, check it out.