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Editor’s Comment: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy

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Annie Ward
Cricket, it’s all so lovely, endless cream teas, the glorious sound of leather on willow, what more could you want? Editor’s Comment, urges bosses to relax a little.


An indifferent attitude to the quintessential game just doesn’t cut it this summer. You can’t but fail to notice the hype that surrounds it. The papers are lapping it up – the Telegraph even dedicated its front page to the rather unimpressive, brown urn kept at Lord’s yesterday and we haven’t even reached a conclusion yet.

And it has certainly provided a welcome break from the doom and gloom and tragedy of the New Orleans disaster and the humiliating football defeat by Northern Ireland.

The cricketers’ wives have even found a place in our hearts, less Posh bling more your denim jacket wearing, shop at John Lewis brigade. We like them, we could even be them. They’re just ordinary women, juggling careers and motherhood.

Free from the oppressive media attention that the footballers’ wives get caught up in and not so wedged as to make their weekly income sound depressingly unobtainable.

The Ashes has captured the imagination of the nation and not just the sporting half. Like Willa Wonka’s chocolate bars and Big Brother we’re obsessed, we’ve fallen for it hook, line and sinker.

But what does all this mean for UK plc? Peninsula, employment firm, tested the waters by quizzing 603 employers and 612 employees. The results are as follows:

  • 87% of employers are allowing workers to follow the cricket in the workplace

  • 79% of bosses claim England’s success may even lead to greater morale and productivity

  • 88% of bosses believe allowing workers to follow England at work has led to reduced absenteeism

And interestingly, 74% of workers claim to have had no interest in cricket at all until this summer.

Peter Done, Managing Director of Peninsula commented: “Many employers in the past have seen sporting events as an irritating distraction to workers and coincide with employees skiving. However this summer with the London Olympic success and now the Ashes, employers are taking a more practical approach and have relaxed their attitudes for which they are reaping the rewards.

“Workers morale and in turn productivity has improved due to a general feel good factor being created around the country stemming from the field of play. Allowing workers to follow the game through the radio or television in the background has resulted in less ‘sickies’ being thrown by workers intent on following the game.”

Furthermore says Done, “The spirit, interaction and mutual respect between opposition players and officials alike is a good role model for workers and businesses. Demonstrating how successful communication and determination can help build bonds towards a common collective goal.”

The parallels between football and cricket have been much touted in the press, and you only have to have witnessed and winced at Rooney’s teenage behaviour on the pitch this week to agree. Cricket really is a gentleman’s game.

So perhaps there is something to be learned from this relaxed, general bonhomie. The Ozzie opposition certainly seem to mix work and play in a more balanced manner – more shrimps on the barbie then late nights in the office, I think.

We’re told time and time again that rising absence levels are making a big hole in UK Plc’s pocket. If bosses can learn just to give a little then the flexibility will surely pay dividends.

It must be better than having workers swapping a day (unauthorised) in the office for one in front of the box. What Done talks about in terms of a ‘feel good’ factor can’t be a bad thing either.

When Marie Antoinette, famously and rather insensitively said to her starving population, “Let them eat cake,” she had a point, albeit with a rather twisted irony. Give them what they want, if only she had worked out it was bread.

If bosses can relax a little then they’ll find workers will return the favour threefold, in terms of productivity, loyalty and general good naturedness – surely that’s got to be a good thing? Something your management book may not point out.

I’d like to hear your views, should employees be allowed to tune in or watch the cricket coverage whilst at work?


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One Response

  1. The World Cup beckons…. handling absence policy
    In 2002, World Cup fever gripped England – we really thought we could do it this time…. roll on 2006 and let’s see if Rooney, Becks and the lads can, well, at least, qualify!

    At the time I was working at a large teaching hospital in London as interim deputy HR director and I started to get loads of queries from HR managers about how to handle absence during the World Cup. As an avid England fan, I drafted up a policy which was positively received by the Board and implemeneted. Our sickness and absence levels actually reduced during that time!

    Here it is for anyone who’s interested!

    World Cup 2002 absence management guidelines

    Many staff are likely to be interested in following the World Cup matches over the next few weeks and as the matches are being played in Japan, they are likely to be played from 7.30am or 12.30pm on weekdays (British Summer Time). The Social Club will be showing matches on a big screen which will be available for members and their guests only.

    The Trust would therefore recommend the following, in order to manage absence flexibly, whilst ensuring the needs of the service are met fully.

    • Managers should be flexible about staff wishing to watch or listen to the World Cup in work time or in their workplace, so long as service to our clients and the working environment is not compromised and the location and volume is appropriate.
    • Subject to staffing levels, managers should be flexible in allowing staff to come to work late or have extended lunch breaks and ensure that the hours are made up.
    • To ensure uninterrupted viewing, staff will need to agree annual leave or use flexitime or self rostering where in place if they wish to be off duty at key times
    • Staff who take sickness absence will need to meet the requirements of the Trust’s Managing Attendance Procedure. If any staff do not have a good reason or certificate for their absence, managers will reserve the right to take appropriate action
    • The Trust’s drug and alcohol policy applies and staff are reminded not to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs at work
    • Further guidance can be sought from the HR team

    [email protected]

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Annie Hayes

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