2009 was something of an exhausting year for most and the hope of some financial gain, the excitement of a new year and the looming FIFA 2010 World Cup has got to offer some light at the end of a tunnel.
Employees have faced many emotional traumas during 2009 and are excited about an international event which could take them out of the difficult zones in which they live. I do not want to be the voice of doom but while encouraging this rejuvenation in the work-place companies do need to understand that 2010 brings a brand new set of risks to South Africa.
The IT environment
In 2006, shortly before the FIFA World Cup in Germany there were warnings to companies that the many soccer fans who would be researching the Internet for results and log standings could not only be a threat to productivity, but could also see a considerable drain on network bandwidth during this time. In 2006, in a Websense Web@Work study, conducted by Harris Interactive, 65% of men surveyed who access the Internet at work admitted to accessing non work-related websites during work hours versus 58% of women. Additionally, of those men, 42% admitted to accessing sports-related websites at work with 18% of women declaring the same.
We know that many organisations have reviewed their Internet usage policy for sites such as Facebook and allow limited access to these sites at specific times and it is recommended that consideration be given to this and attention be paid to the file types such as streaming audio and video. In addition there are over 100 000 gambling websites available online and these pose another threat to employees’ financial positions.
Health and wellbeing
The World Cup will be taking place in winter and companies are faced with the normal winter sick leave and ailments. Have you considered that it is anticipated that worker absenteeism during this time could cost companies up to R750 million? It has been said that one in three South Africans will take sick leave to watch soccer and this does not account for those that just take time off during working hours to watch in the local pub or tavern. These figures have been based on results from England during the 2006 World Cup.
Sick leave policies need to be reviewed to ensure they manage the situation and employees need to be encouraged to report abuse of sick leave through an anonymous hotline. Companies can encourage patriotism by allowing matches to be watched during work time, but employees must know that if they are missing work they need to take annual leave.
Another health risk is HIV. Football and sex apparently belong together and many people are either known to celebrate victories or cuddle away their sorrows. We know that the region has the highest rates of HIV infection in the world and Africa has four times the number of commercial sex workers than anywhere else in the world. We run a real risk of HIV being spread during this time and being carried back to the mother population.
While learners may be extremely excited by the extended school holidays this will encourage family holidays and could add to the productivity losses during the year.
Additional costs that could arise during this period are the increased costs of travel within the country. Many senior staff members are required to visit national branches and offices and the demand for hotels and flights are expected to exceed the supply. This inflates not only the cost of the visit but should changes be necessary they will be expensive.
It has been recommended that business appointments be made at the time of matches (13h30, 16h00 and 20h30) as the traffic should be lower during these times. Be aware of where the stadia and fan parks will be situated and do not travel near these sites on days of matches.
Fan parks in the Western Cape:
* The Grand Parade.
* Somerset West Road.
* Bellville Velodrome.
* Hout Bay.
Training facilities in the Western Cape:
* Newlands Rugby Ground.
* UCT Rugby Ground.
* UWC Soccer Field.
* Bellville Rugby Ground.
* Stellenbosch Rugby Ground.
* Athlone Stadium.
Fan parks currently identified in Johannesburg include:
* Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown.
* Fan parks are being planned in Soweto.
* Innes-Free Park in Sandton.
* Walter Sisulu Square in Kliptown.
In Durban the Beach Front has been earmarked as one of the city’s preferred sites for one or more fan parks.
Aside from property risks, risk management, terrorism and political risk, companies need to consider the possibility of reputation damage and need to make employees aware of the cost of a damaged reputation. If an employee’s priority is to be watching a soccer match they are not going to be giving a client their undivided attention and if the client is not a soccer fan they could well be looking to move to your opposition.
Risk management and business continuity has to keep all key business operations working whatever the threat, enabling all key business operations (and their supporting structures) to continue in any situation and risk management now has to extend beyond the traditional and insurable risks and has to encompass a wide variety of strategic, operational, reputation, regulatory, and information risks.
How to limit 2010 costs?
* Review Risk Management policy to cover new possible threats in 2010.
* Review IT policy and consider blocking Web access to all known sites that stream World Cup live.
* Review sick leave policy.
* Understand which employees will be wanting to watch the World Cup matches.
* Consider a more flexible employee working schedule to enable people to watch matches but still get the work done.
* Restrict business travel during this time.
* If business travel is necessary ensure that it is well planned to minimise the need for changes to reservations.
* Allow ample time to get to airports to avoid missing the flight.
* Anticipate reduced availability of parking at airports.
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