Workshop: Personal Trainer

Recently, my staff wanted to bring in a television to watch the football. I said no, and this went down badly. Should I have let them?

Well, I can see your point. The year is littered with sporting events and we have the Olympics coming up! What if staff decide that Wimbledon, golf tournaments, Royal Ascot and the Boat Race are also compulsory?

For some, work must be a constant interference with their enjoyment of major sporting fixtures. I'm sure that most of us, at times, would rather be watching television than getting on with the job, but that's life!

Your need to make sure your organisation performs and delivers. I don't know the nature of your particular organisation or how the football might have interfered with carrying out the job, but the bottom line for any charity is the service we provide to our users, members or beneficiaries.

While we're working, our own entertainment cannot come before those who rely on us.

However, we do need a more flexible and informal approach to patterns of work. As far as possible, we should ensure that work patterns and practices accommodate staff as individuals. This cannot mean time off for every football match, but does mean making sure jobs are suited to individuals, and vice versa. Handled properly, this increases both job satisfaction and productivity.

And don't forget that there are occasions when we simply need to have fun at work. You can turn major sporting events such as the recent England football match into an opportunity for enjoyment. Make a positive thing of allowing time off for people to watch a match as a team. Indeed, this is the sort of event that can bring people together, particularly in larger organisations where staff often work in departmental silos.

Of course the phones still need to be answered. And of course there is still a small minority of people - I count myself as one of them - who would not dream of watching football. However, we can use sporting occasions as an excuse to bring people together.

We should always be on the lookout for opportunities to make working life more interesting and enjoyable. Relieving the day-to-day monotony and drudgery will raise morale, and show your staff that they are valued. You don't want to make them feel that their enjoyment doesn't interest you.

So, if it's not too disruptive, consider turning the next football match into a positive occasion for your team. Whatever you decide in future, don't be too grumpy with them!

Stephen Bubb is chief executive of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (Acevo). Send your questions to:

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