Football friends at work: New research shows that watching the game with colleagues builds team spirit

New research finds employees appreciate team spirit when watching sporting events

  • The majority of employees (77%) find spending time outside of work with colleagues, including watching sporting events, beneficial
  • The most important benefits are ‘getting to know one another better’ and ‘building better rapport’ with colleagues
  • Philipp Lahm (Germany) was selected as the most popular choice among respondents as a company team leader
  • New report from Robert Half identifies many parallels between football and work teams

Dubai, 10 June 2014 – Nearly eight in 10 (77%) employees appreciate the team spirit and camaraderie that accompanies watching sporting events – such as the forthcoming FIFA World Cup in Brazil – with colleagues. A recent survey by specialist recruiter Robert Half explores the success factors of successful teams in the world of sport, and how they can be adopted by teams in the workplace.

According to survey participants, the greatest benefits of watching sporting events include: ‘getting to know one another better’ (28%), and ‘building better rapport with colleagues’ (26%). A further 15% of respondents use sporting events to interact with colleagues from outside their own departments. Nearly one in ten (9%) consider it an opportunity to network with company management in an informal setting.

Workers were asked, “What is the primary benefit of watching a sporting event like the World Cup with your work colleagues?” Their responses:

Getting to know one another better in a non-work setting


Building better rapport with departmental colleagues/team members


Interacting with colleagues from other departments


Networking with company leadership outside of work


No benefit


Don’t know















Gareth El Mettouri, Associate Director, Robert Half said, ‘With the heavy demands of the work environment, colleagues often do not have the chance to build that rapport and camaraderie that are such critical factors in successful teams. While the UAE may not have a team on the pitch, the host of nations that are present in our workplaces will likely result in some healthy competition as well as team spirit amongst employees. Doing so creates a positive work environment where employees are engaged, motivated and happy in their jobs.’

Successful teams are the result of successful team players – in sport as well as in professional lives. It is therefore not surprising that when international workers were asked which football player would make the best business team leader, one in three (31%) chose Philipp Lahm, the captain of the German national team. His ability to think strategically, while being flexible and versatile, makes him the ideal team captain in leading his team to success.

In successful sporting teams, every player takes on a particular role. According to Robert Half’s analysis, this accounts for successful teams in the corporate world as well. It is therefore important that each employee knows precisely his or her position on the team as well as those of work colleagues – just as football players do: head coach, captain, professional, star player, new signing or referee.

El Mettouri continues, ‘The role of the head coach, or manager in the workplace, is to identify the strengths and opportunities of individual team members and how they can work together to create a dream team. A company’s greatest asset is its people, so having the right talent to leverage growth opportunities will become an increasingly critical factor as the economy continues to improve. Working with a specialised recruiter to identify skills gaps and source the industry’s very best talent will ensure that businesses are poised to take the advantage of the upturn.’

Managers looking to create their own dream team should consider the following profiles:

  • The captain. The captain leads by example, sets the course to follow and inspires the team to give its best. He or she needs responsibility and recognition, can make decisions independently and enjoys the trust of company management.
  • The experienced professional. The experienced professional provides extensive expertise and ensures stability, continuity and quality. He or she shares knowledge with new employees and makes a good mentor, while also focusing on personal career advancement, expecting support from management to be successful.
  • The new signing. The new signing brings a breath of fresh air, novel ideas and a new perspective to the team. With good training, regular feedback and a mentor at his or her side, this new hire can become a top performer.

Additional role descriptions, key traits and how to manage each role can be found in the Robert Half booklet ‘Creating & Managing The Dream Team’, which is available for download.


About the Study

The "Creating & Managing the Dream Team" survey, developed by Robert Half, was conducted across Europe and South America by an independent, market research firm in March 2014. In total, 1,581 office workers were surveyed.

About Robert Half

Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised recruitment consultancy and member of the S&P 500. Founded in 1948, the company has over 340 offices worldwide, including Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar specialising in the recruitment of accounting and finance, financial services, technology, HR and legal professionals. For more than 15 years, Robert Half has been named to FORTUNE® magazine’s list of “Most Admired Companies” and offers workplace and job seeker resources at