Cifas Homepage
NewsroomCareersContact Us

How organisations can tackle employees abusing company time during Euro 2024 and the Olympic Games

12 June 2024

This summer, employers will be facing a unique challenge as major sporting events – such as the Euro 2024 tournament and Paris Olympics – will be televised largely during working hours and tempting employees to tune in rather than focus on work. If employees are keen to log-off to see their country’s bid for glory during worktime, what can organisations do and what should they expect?

Of course, providing ways for employees to watch big events can help to boost morale, as long as it doesn’t significantly disrupt operations and other members of the team who may not want to watch. Employers must strike the right balance so that they ensure individual needs are met and that people aren’t exploiting trust and abusing company time.

In short, abuse of company time can be defined as occurring when employees are being paid for hours they’re not working. Our data shows, a 75% increase in filings to the Cifas Insider Threat Database (ITD) for abuse of company time from 2021-22, and a further 29% uplift between 2022-23. It’s a problem that many organisations want to monitor and tackle because an employee’s dishonest actions can not only damage the company reputationally but financially too.

While many employers may already have plans in place to enable their teams to log-off and watch their sporting heroes during working hours, expectations must be set and communicated effectively prior to these events kicking off. Additionally, by considering how to keep things fair and consistent for all staff, employers can mitigate feelings of favouritism. Without doing so, companies risk employees feeling disgruntled if they see their colleagues getting time-off whilst they work.

As we’ve touched on in previous blogs, a person only needs the opportunity, motivation and/or rationalisation to commit a dishonest act against their employer. In this instance, an employee may become disgruntled because their leave request to watch a sporting event was rejected, and so may decide to act dishonesty against their employer.

In comparison, someone who was unhappy they had to work throughout whilst colleagues were watching events on TV may falsify timesheets to account for the additional work they undertook while others logged-off. They may falsify their expenses, telling themselves that the money they have fraudulently claimed will cover the work they did whilst colleagues weren’t working.

  1. Businesses who don’t have strong defences against dishonest actions can become weak to bigger problems internally. Here are some key strategies and measures for employers to reduce the impact of disgruntled individuals abusing company time:
  2. Agree in advance what the company’s stance is when allowing employees to watch specific events. Establish clear policies to ensure everyone understands the rules and nothing is ambiguous.
  3. Remember that distracted employees are prone to making mistakes such as mishandling sensitive information.
  4. Differentiate between offering employees a few hours off to watch key events and taking an entire day ‘off sick’. For example, YouGov research estimated that one in eleven employees who intended to watch England’s opening 2022 World Cup match would ‘skive off’ – costing the UK economy over £250m in lost productivity.
  5. Recognise the potential that employees might call in sick to watch events and try to discourage this behaviour. Communication is key here as individuals need to understand the consequences to both productivity and personal integrity. We’ve seen instances of dishonest conduct recorded to our ITD where employees have supplied false sick notes.
  6. Keep it fair and consistent:
    • Don’t allow one person or a team flexible working if it’s not being offered across the board.
    • If employees are given time-off, consider offering an allocated number of hours over the summer so it’s fair to those who don’t want to watch sporting events.
    • Ensure employees know if they fail to make up the specific time they have off, that this could be considered an abuse of company time.
    • Encourage using break times and flexible hours or annual leave to watch big events – further promoting honesty and transparency.

Reducing the risk of abuse of company time during major sporting events requires a thoughtful and tailored approach – one which aligns with the organisation’s culture and values. By setting clear expectations, maintaining fairness, providing balance, and promoting integrity, employers can manage employee engagement without compromising productivity or morale and, in turn, safeguard workforces.

Protect your organisation from the risk of dishonest employees causing reputational or financial harm. Find out how Cifas’ Insider Threat Protect solution and Learning offerings can help you keep your people and business safe.

Posted by: Karen Scott

Three ways to make online fraud prevention training interesting to employees

21 June 2024

Figures from the Employer Skills Survey reveal that the average investment in training per employee is £1,780, so it is important organisations make sure their commitment to L&D is worthwhile – ensuring staff are utilising the learning on offer and personal development goals are being achieved.


Continuing the conversation on counter bribery and corruption

24 May 2024

National Conversation Week (23-29 May) is designed to get people talking. That’s why we’re taking this timely opportunity to remind you as employers to have open, honest, and consistent dialogue with employees around your organisation’s counter bribery and corruption policies. When you do, you’re better equipped to provide a crucial layer of defence against fraud risk and insider threat. Let’s delve into this a little more…

Back to blog home >
Posted by: Karen Scott