Saying Brazilians are passionate about the World Cup is something of an understatement –it’s the ‘spiritual home of football’. In World Cup year, schools close and employees have afternoons off every time the Brazilian team have a match.

In cities hosting the ‘big’ games such as the opening and closing matches, nothing and no one will work. Of course there are some industries such as food and beverage that will be 100% commercially focused on the event, however for the main part, past levels of World Cup fixation will be well and truly trumped – schools will be closed all day long, banks will only open till noon and many companies will have entire days off. Yes, World Cup fever is taking over.

We know from our recent Hay Group publication Leadership 2030 that one of the growing trends in employment is individualization – organizations need to understand their employees as individuals and find ways of working that suit them accordingly. In any World Cup year there is often an expectation from the workforce that they would and should be given the flexibility to watch matches.

How can organizations keep their employees engaged, customers happy and business on track?

Well, in times of disruption and change, whether that is a renowned sporting event or a major organizational restructure, the basic employee engagement ingredients still apply:

Teams on and off the field

Perhaps there are more business benefits to watching sporting events such as the World Cup than we might first think. In fact there are parallels between what happens on the football pitch and the effectiveness of both teams and individuals.

In terms of team performance, a successful football team is highly engaged. Each national team will put in the discretionary effort, be motivated and advocate their team as being the best.

The best teams will also be high on enablement. They will be structured in the optimal way (be that 4-4-2 or similar), have the right leadership and believe there are no barriers to their success.

If every team in every organization went into the workplace everyday as engaged as their own nation’s World Cup side I expect productivity would double overnight.

There is much that business leaders can learn from the way teams are managed:

And the World Cup goes to…

There are also lessons for individual employees. There will only be one winning team, and as in the work environment, that may not be always be your team. Succeeding in the long term is about a high level of sustainable performance. Understanding why as an individual you didn’t make your targets (or score that winning penalty) is as important for your future development as being a winner first time around.

The World Cup shows us that everyone at some point in their career gets their chance to shine in the spotlight. Whether you are Lionel Messi, Neymar, Pelé or the next great administrative assistant, you need to know your moment.

Hear the crowd roar, take a deep breath, hear the whistle…and go for the goal.