More than 100 million people are expected to attend Super Bowl LVII on February 12 – including many of your employees. Maybe they’re avid fans or they just tune in to the commercials or the halftime show. Either way, your employees are likely to get excited about the event and take part in related activities before, during, and after the big game. Will they place bets? Put on your team’s gear? Engage in banter? Call “sick” on Monday? Participation in the championship parade? You should be prepared to handle those scenarios before the Chiefs take on the Eagles at State Farm Stadium in Greater Phoenix in just a few weeks. Here are five essential tips to help you win this Super Bowl Sunday regardless of the outcome of the game (and some bonus predictions from our writers).
1. Set expectations and manage productivity
Before the game, sports fans will spend time in your office reading about teams online, texting their friends with their predictions, or maybe even placing bets online instead of working. While it helps to create and enforce a policy that restricts the types of activities your employees can perform on company computers and company-issued smartphones, realistic employers know that most employees can easily circumvent these bans by using personal smartphones and use tablets.
Instead, you should enforce productivity standards in the days leading up to the game, just as you should any other business day. Many companies recognize that their employees inevitably spend a portion of their workday on personal matters, whether it’s running errands, shopping online, making phone calls, or chatting. Knowing this, most organizations ultimately care about getting assigned work done and will not micromanage every moment of the day. Ultimately, and especially in companies that employ mostly white-collar workers, it’s better to have happy employees (which in turn make them more productive) than to be harsh on an employee who has a relatively unproductive day or two before or after the Super Bowl.
Of course, certain hourly workers and other employees have a responsibility to work diligently at all times that they are on the clock. Whatever your situation, just make sure you consistently enforce your productivity standards and associated policies.
2. Review and communicate your workplace gambling policy
The biggest question most employers ask about major sporting events like the Super Bowl or March Madness is whether gambling is legal in the workplace. Many offices set up a small betting pool where participants are encouraged to “buy a square” or otherwise place bets on various aspects of the game, and sometimes this form of gambling is encouraged or even organized by management. is this legal
Several federal laws prohibit betting on sporting events, and the actions become much riskier when workers place bets across state lines. But the chances of federal agencies cracking down on low-end office pools are pretty slim.
State laws vary across the country, although many allow social gambling at events like the Super Bowl, so long as the organizer doesn’t siphon money off the top of the pool, the pool is limited to people you know, and dollar levels are relatively low stay .
However, employers should be more concerned than if the authorities will raid their premises when it comes to gambling in the workplace. Instead, you should be more concerned about problems that can befall an office when large amounts of money flow through the building. Also, some employees may feel compelled to participate despite having personal or religious objections to gambling, or simply because they do not feel they can afford to participate. After all, some of your employees might be “bad losers” and don’t respond well to losing money to a colleague, leading to toxic discord in the workplace.
To address this situation, you should develop a workplace gambling policy and enforce it consistently. If you already have one, now would be a good time to send out a notice to your employees reminding them of your policy. And with the rise of legal online betting in recent years, you should consider allowing your employees to use company devices to access gambling sites or apps. By strengthening the rules that you believe work best for your business, you reduce the likelihood of violations.
As a simple solution to many of these problems – and given that some of your workforce may want to be involved in the outcome of the game – consider creating a voluntary workplace pool with no entry fee. You can buy prizes with company funds and hand them out to winners, turning a potentially troublesome event into a morale boost.
3. Remind employees of behavior and dress code standards
Especially if your offices are in the Kansas City or Philadelphia areas, you should consider your company’s dress code before the game. If you allow employees to wear Patrick Mahomes or Jalen Hurts jerseys or otherwise dress in their team colors, be sure to make clear in your communications what types of team gear are permitted.
Employees should understand that while they are encouraged to support their team, they should still dress appropriately. Consider whether there might be safety concerns depending on the type of work your employees are doing.
Additionally, and especially if you have employees firing for opposing teams, you may want to remind them to keep their banter professional and that all work-appropriate behavior policies still apply.
4. Be prepared to manage post-game day absenteeism
Looking ahead to the day after the game, as well as the day of the championship parade, be prepared for some inevitable absenteeism, no-call/no-shows, and late arrivals from workers. A recent survey on the subject found that about 16.5 million workers “call in sick” or use PTO the day after the Super Bowl, while another 4.4 million workers show up late. And most employers know that unplanned absences are far more costly to a business than planned absences.
Those who show up are often distracted by water cooler chats, rewatching game highlights (or their favorite commercials), reading blogs and media stories about the biggest games on the field, or nursing a hangover. All of this leads to decreased productivity.
When it comes to the workers who show up, make sure you enforce your productivity standards just like you did in the days leading up to the game, and allow for a realistic leniency on Monday morning. If you employ workers in jobs that involve safety-related duties, be sure to monitor them to ensure the “Monday case” does not pose a legitimate threat that might require a drug or alcohol test or further investigation. And if you happen to be working in the losing team’s town, feel free to slack off your workers and let them wallow in misery for a few hours.
As for the absent employees or the latecomers, you should be consistent in enforcing your attendance policy. At the same time, you should consider any state or federal leave laws that may protect absentee workers or impose administrative requirements on you before taking any disciplinary action. Where permitted, consider requiring “sick” employees to produce a medical certificate documenting the reasons for their absence, which may discourage employees from fooling you. If you work in a state with a paid sick leave law, you should consult your state’s law to make sure it does not restrict such a request.
5. Be realistic, fair and consistent
As mentioned above, the key is to be fair and consistent. Regardless of your situation, the most important concept to keep in mind is ensuring that you and your managers are consistently enforcing your productivity standards and associated policies. Be realistic when addressing these situations and make sure you are not overly harsh on an employee who is doing essentially the same thing as a colleague who is beyond your control. By treating workers in an inconsistent way, you can open the way to a discrimination claim.
Following these steps should help you avoid employment difficulties and enjoy the Super Bowl this year instead of worrying about the impact it will have on your workplace. We will continue to monitor developments in relation to all aspects of employment law. Be sure to subscribe to the Fisher Phillips Insight system for the most up-to-date information. If you have any questions, contact your Fisher Phillips attorney or the authors of this finding.