The World Cup – a knock out engagement opportunity!

world cup 2014Fears that the World Cup could cost employers billions of pounds through lost working hours and footballing gossip have been less vocal than with previous tournaments. World Cup 2014 in Brazil means the matches will be played during UK evenings and will hopefully have a far smaller impact. However, employers who don’t make use of the feel good factor the competition creates could be missing a trick! For the right audience it provides a great opportunity to address low morale or reinforce high spirits, and can contribute to overall engagement levels.

Adrian Duncan talks to Ingenious Britain about the opportunity this competition presents.


The World Cup can be used as a motivational tool, overlaid onto a firm foundation of engagement.  Although only 13% of employees worldwide are fully engaged at work, according to Gallup’s 142-country study on the State of the Global Workplace, 63% of employees are not ‘fully engaged’ rather than being ‘actively disengaged’. All tactics to address this, including the World Cup, should be considered. Creating collective memorable moments, that are retold later, will help improve relationships during hard times.

But beware! The first thing on your check list should be whether you can even run any activity. The World Cup trademark and branding rules are extremely strict so any activity has to be very informal. If you are aiming for anything large scale, ensure you do your checks first.  And that means being clear on your objectives first and foremost.


Know your audience

football crowdYou need to understand both your audience and the psychology behind people’s behaviours in order to achieve maximum impact. There’s nothing worse than a badly targeted activity that becomes anything but fun.

Is your workforce predominantly men, women or a mix of the two? Consider what impact all this ‘football fuss’ will have on those with no interest in the sport. What other short term incentives will you offer to engage those who are put off World Cup fever? If you believe that this opportunity isn’t right for your workforce demographic then consider other sporting events, such as Wimbledon or the Commonwealth Games, which may have more universal appeal.

Be inclusive of all staff. Whether they are based in an office or out in the field. If you fail to cater for remote workers then you could unintentionally demotivate this section of your workforce. Top achievers will continue to deliver, with or without these sort of initiatives, so consider focussing your activity on those who could do more. Set realistic and achievable targets for those who demonstrate performance improvement.


Short-term is best

Short-term initiatives at a company level will work really well. But do remember to give your managers scope to pick and choose from a range of options, or let employees come up with their own ideas.

For feel good general camaraderie your organisation may wish to consider:

  • Football themed workplace decoration
  • Dress down Friday with football shirtspeople at barbecue
  • Having a large screen showing football highlights at lunchtime is a great bonding experience of collective viewing
  • A themed gathering at work (or an alternative venue) complete with face-painting and fancy dress. Ostensibly geared around watching a match but extended to a BBQ or buffet, with World Cup themed cakes etc of course!
  • This can be taken further and extended to a family fun afternoon / evening with football themed games
  • A sweepstake on the winner usually gets a great response, perhaps with the firm throwing in a prize of tickets to a high profile match
  • Teams drawn from people in different departments to enter light hearted competitions will help bring people together and create camaraderie, for example A fantasy football competition, Design your own football pitch or decorate a ball or a table football team competition


For more specific motivation techniques:

  • Create a ‘man of the match’ recognition Award, issued each day. Similarly a ‘man of the tournament’ recognition Award for the whole period.
    • If you have a recognition scheme already then build this in, perhaps by focussing on a specific value such as teamwork or spirit
    • If not, test the waters with this short term tactical activity
  • On the incentive side
    • Employees can be encouraged to choose a side to follow, but only if they reach an agreed target. They can then win prizes off the back of an individual match. Alternatively, employees can progress through the competition with their teams, achieving prizes at second round, quarter final, semi final and final stage.
    • The hatrick – achieve three sales in a given time period to win a ‘football related’, or a ‘get away from football’ prize.
    • Spot the ball – simply hit a target, achieve a sale or each time you’re thanked in a day, you earn a guess of where the ball is in a football picture. You can have multiple guesses and the person closest at the end of the day wins a prize.


Whether you just dip your toe in or embrace the tournament with a full programme, make sure you make the most of this opportunity. At the very least, give your managers the scope to try out their own ideas and you could be a World Cup winner!


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