As Eric Cantona didn’t quite say, just as seagulls follow the trawler, every major sporting event attracts its own retinue of surveys warning about their potential to distract people from work. Wimbledon is no different of course and in the time honoured tradition the Chartered institute of Personnel and Development has produced its own research into how employees will be making choices between Pimm’s and PDA during this fortnight and what employers should do about it, if anything.
The conundrum for employers is invariably the same: given the potential for Wimbledon / World Cup / Olympics to distract employees, do they police the amount of time they divert or do they just give in to it all?
According to the latest survey by the CIPD, the majority of workers won’t be given time off to watch the tennis. It found that 86 per cent of organisations were not intending to let staff watch but also warns that people may watch anyway and so flexibility around the time of important matches during working hours could boost employee morale.
In other words, employers should accept that this is not a battle they will win and they should aim to strike a balance and communicate a policy to staff. It has been estimated that around half of the UK population watched Wimbledon at some point last year, with 6.8 million viewing the action online.
The issue will become more acute if Andy Murray does well again this year. Murray’s appearance in last year’s semi-final attracted the tournament’s largest UK audience of 7.1 million even though it was screened during normal working hours. A repeat may be the time to break out the Pimm’s and strawberries and let the work wait for a couple of hours.