Rising fandom of women’s soccer shoots workplace absenteeism and pay equity into the forefront this summer
LOWELL, Mass. & WESTON, Fla.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Late-night and early-morning viewing by soccer fans could wreak havoc on workplace productivity if leaders don’t have a game plan for absenteeism. This according to a new survey from UKG, a leading provider of HR, payroll, and workforce management solutions for all people, which found that nearly half (46%) of full/part-time employed U.S. adults who plan to watch the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup™ games live will miss work because of it. The survey was conducted on behalf of UKG by The Harris Poll among 1,154 employed Americans.
As the title sponsor of the 2023 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) UKG Challenge Cup — the first tournament to reach pay parity with the U.S. men’s game — UKG also believes that the ever-growing popularity of women’s soccer will not only impact employee absence this summer, but will drive discussions about pay equity worldwide. According to the survey, 7 in 10 employed Americans believe there’s a pay equity problem between men and women both in professional sports (71%) and in the workplace (70%).
But change may be coming, as 77% of employed Americans say they trust that their employers are making pay equity a priority today. For its part, UKG launched the UKG Close the Gap Initiative, a multi-year, multi-pronged program aimed at supporting pay equity. UKG has teamed up with several nonprofit organizations, as well as the NWSL, working to close the U.S. gender pay gap.
“I am watching the World Cup for the first time in over a decade, and I’m so proud cheering on my team as they go for a historical three-peat,” said two-time World Cup champion, Angel City FC forward, and UKG Ambassador Christen Press, who is currently recovering from an ACL tear and was a major catalyst in the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) landmark pay equity victory against the U.S. Soccer Federation. “The USWNT has shown that we can achieve greatness when we team up and support one another, and I’m excited about what we continue to accomplish together both on and off the field.”
The popularity of women’s soccer is undeniable, with as many as 68.17 million1 employed Americans planning to watch the August 20 finals live if the USWNT makes it to the championship game. In fact, more than a third (38%) of employed Americans say they’d rather watch the Women’s World Cup than the Men’s World Cup. Press and fellow two-time Women’s World Cup champion Tobin Heath will be hosting The RE—CAP Show: World Cup Edition throughout the tournament to provide an unfiltered, humorous, and inside look at the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
As for the impact the Women’s World Cup games may have on work, UKG survey findings highlight the need for organizations to prepare for possible staffing challenges and other workplace distractions. Roughly 1 in 6 full/part-time employed Americans who plan to miss work due to watching the games live (16%) will do so without revealing their absence plans in advance — by either planning to come in late or leave early without telling their manager (10%), calling in sick when they aren’t actually sick (6%), or ghosting altogether (5%) by simply not showing up to work and not letting anyone know.
Many of those who do report to work still think the soccer competition will impact their performance, as 35% of employed Americans who plan to watch the Women’s World Cup predict they’ll be less productive than normal at work during the tournament, due to watching the matches, viewing post-game coverage and interviews, and talking with co-workers about the event.
“This summer should be about celebrating these strong, female athletes for what they do on and off the pitch, not about kicking ourselves over the impact the games may have or may not have in the workplace. Companies can get ahead of potential absence problems with a little planning and a lot of open communication,” said Pat Wadors, chief people officer at UKG. “And, as with everything in today’s world of work — from taking time off to how people are paid — it all starts with our managers. They need to lead the way with authentic, vulnerable, and transparent communication, so we can create productive workforce cultures built on a foundation of trust and belonging.”
At UKG, our purpose is people. As strong believers in the power of culture and belonging as the secret to success, we champion great workplaces and build lifelong partnerships with our customers to show what’s possible when businesses invest in their people. One of the world’s leading HCM cloud companies today, UKG and our Life-work Technology approach to HR, payroll, and workforce management solutions for all people helps more than 75,000 organizations around the globe and across every industry anticipate and adapt to their employees’ needs beyond just work. To learn more, visit ukg.com.
This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll on behalf of UKG July 20-24, 2023, among 1,154 employed U.S. adults ages 18 and older. The sampling precision of Harris online polls is measured by using a Bayesian credible interval. For this study, the sample data is accurate to within +/- 3.2 percentage points using a 95% confidence level. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact email@example.com.
Footnote 1: Calculation based on a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics June 2023 report that estimates there are 158,543,000 employed adults in the United States: 158,543,000 x 43% of employed adults who plan to watch the Final match live if the USWNT plays = 68.17 million.
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