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Will the World Cup hurt productivity?

Once every four years, when the FIFA World Cup rolls around, business surveys and studies are inevitably released telling us that all those hours spent watching football, thinking about football and talking about football have a tangible effect on the global economy.

During the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, for example, sales data and intelligence firm InsideView estimated that the tournament would cost the UK economy $7.36 billion in productivity losses.

Closer to home, the Malaysian Employers Federation found that more than 55 per cent of businesses had dealt with “high absenteeism or productivity loss” during the past two tournaments. Media reports suggest more of the same this year.

But despite the fact that games will be shown at extreme hours in Cambodia, employers here say they expect that workers will still turn up to work on time and get the job done.

“I have no concern it’s affecting productivity. It’s creating excitement, and generally football in Cambodia is not as hyped [up] as in Malaysia, for example,” Smart Axiata CEO Thomas Hundt said. “So far it’s positive energy instead of negative.”

According to Acleda executive vice president and group chief operations officer So Phonnary, the bank has never had any problems with workers being less productive during the World Cup.

“According to our corporate culture, our staff are committed and they manage their time. If it’s a holiday or a weekend they may go to bed late, but for weekdays, I don’t think my staff will do this.”

Chan Sophal, president of the Cambodian Economic Association, said that, despite not having any data, he would speculate that the tournament has little impact on productivity.

“My guess is that it’s not that significant in Cambodia. Only a handful of people would be affected.”

Pascal Tadin, executive assistant manager at the Sofitel Phokeethra hotel in Phnom Penh, said that while he had noticed “enthusiasm and chatter” about the Cup among hotel staff, “we have not seen any negative impact regarding our staff’s professionalism”.



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