UK bosses fear World Cup will be an ‘own goal’ for business

Of this figure, almost a quarter are worried about increased staff absenteeism and a further 23% are concerned that they will see a drop in productivity during the football tournament this summer.

The statistics are drawn from the Close Brothers Business Barometer, a quarterly poll of SME owners and senior management that aims to gauge sentiment on a number of key issues.

Commenting on the findings, Mike Randall, CEO of Close Brothers Asset Finance said: “With the competition taking place in Brazil this year, many of the matches will be televised late at night in the UK and as a result, some fans may be tempted to take unauthorised absences.

“The relaxed licensing laws for England games will allow bars to stay open later and this will have an impact felt by small businesses, as major sporting events have an unparalleled ability to distract both employees and clients,” he added.

The survey further revealed that 46 per cent of bosses expect to receive special requests for annual leave but found that over half would be willing to accommodate flexible working hours or shift changes to allow staff to watch games.

Mike Randall added: “The tournament is a celebrated global event but it’s understandable that many bosses are concerned as it comes at a time when many are just starting to experience growth.

“It is important that small businesses take steps to protect themselves. It is promising to see that many are already prepared to introduce flexible working hours, but likewise it is important to recognise how business owners can use the tournament to benefit their business.

“Small perks in the workplace can greatly increase employee morale and job satisfaction, so employers could consider introducing flexible working hours and other steps such as introducing a TV to the staff common area as a way to create a better working environment and potentially boost productivity and job satisfaction in the long term.”