How Much Will The Loss of Productivity Due To World Cup Cost Your Company?


The wait is finally over. The 2014 FIFA World Cup kicked off in a glittering opening ceremony on Friday morning (local time).

As exciting as this month-long ‘epidemic’ can be, companies are worried and are expecting a drop in productivity amongst their employees. With most of the matches scheduled to play late at night in this part of the world, it is no doubt that most will show up at work (if they do, at all) with bleary eyes,

There’s little doubt that the 2014 FIFA World Cup will hit the productivity of employees in Malaysia. Based on past records, 55% of respondents of surveys conducted by the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) for the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, indicated high absenteeism or productivity loss during the periods.

There will be no exception for this World Cup in Brazil especially given the time zone difference.

Football fans in Malaysia who are mostly working in the private sector (6.5 million) would definitely catch the matches live resulting in a large part of our nation deprived of sleep for a month.

In 2010, the same survey conducted by MEF found 35.6% of respondents saw more cases of employee tardiness and 35% saw an increase in medical leave.

According to MEF’s executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan in an interview with The Star, one way to reduce loss of productivity at work is for employers to organise viewing parties after working hours for their staff to catch delayed telecasts of World Cup matches together in the office.

However, it will most likely not work based on The Star-Adidas Loudest Noise Survey in 2010, which found that 61% of the respondents in Malaysia stayed up to catch the early morning matches (2.30am), 32% watched only the night matches (7.30pm and 10pm), and the remaining 7% did not watch any match.

So, how much will employers stand to lose?

A small company with 30 employees will see an estimated loss of RM18, 657 over the World Cup month based on the calculation as follow:

productivity WC 2

The above calculation shows hypothetically, how one small business can suffer during the football tournament. The cost incurred due to the loss of productivity by employees varies from company to company.

It’s a global epidemic!

The threat to productivity is not confined to Malaysia. Almost every country in the world (even in the US, a country who’s still struggling with the concept of real football) is bracing for another bout of loss in productivity!

According to an infographic by InsideView, about a US$12.17 million loss in productivity is estimated in the US alone. Twenty-six per cent of respondents in a survey indicated that they would be taking time off work to catch the game, 17% planned to work shorter days, 6% intended to take annual leave, and 3% planned to take sick leave.

In the country where football was invented, nearly three-quarters of UK businesses will provide a communal area for staff to watch matches played during working hours. According to a survey involving 100 UK business leaders by telecoms and IT services provider Coms plc, the biggest sporting event in the world this year could result in a loss to British business of about 250 million working hours, comprising of rise in absenteeism, late arrivals and poor performance due to lack of sleep or discussions at the workplace.

On the plus side 50% of respondents said that the tournament gives the nation a ‘feel-good factor’ and will actually aid performance as well (though the net effect seems to be negative still)

While in the Middle East, 89% of employees in the region plan to watch at least some of the games, according to a survey conducted by GultTalent.

About one in 10 said that they would go to work late in order to catch up on sleep, while a similar number will take a day of annual leave after watching late night matches. Three per cent would report sick so they do not have to go to work. About one-third of respondents said that they will cut on their sleep to make it to work on time.

Knowing these numbers, will Malaysian employees (or other parts of the world) implement new office policies or rules to manage the productivity issues?

Bosses who themselves are inclined to watch the games, will more likely close one eye and provide flexibility to their staff during this exciting period. Some managers may even take it up a notch by taking it as an opportunity for team building and organise competitions related to World Cup in their offices.

Whichever way employers choose to tackle the productivity problem, one thing is for sure. World Cup is here and for some, it is not just a game, but THE greatest game on earth. Perhaps, it’s time to relax and just celebrate how a simple sport can unite people of different races, religions and nationalities. Money aside, for once.


Find out which five football players who will see their value increase after the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

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