Getting a head start on the Olympics

Jun 12, 2012 | Time Off Work

olympic gamesThe Olympics is fast approaching and with a bit of planning and forethought it could be an excellent opportunity to boost employee morale and store up some goodwill for the future. Many employees will be interested in the sporting events over the summer and equally there will be employees who just want to get on with their work with the minimum of disruption. Accommodating both groups can be a tricky balancing act but if you communicate plans clearly and use your existing policies to manage your staff effectively you should find the drama is limited to the track and field rather than the workplace.

Continuity and Contingency Planning

Making it easy for employees to keep working with the minimum of disruption is extremely important. A little time spent now investigating what and when difficulties are likely to occur and what can be done to avoid them can save you hours of time and trouble later. Particular consideration should be given to how you will manage these potential problems:

  • Travel and transport disruption
  • Absence (planned and unplanned)

If you decide to make changes or draw up a contingency plan it should be communicated to all workers and anyone directly impacted or expected to manage aspects of the plan should be given additional training if necessary.  Late starts, early finishes, shift-swaps, flexible working and unpaid leave can all be considered to help find workable solutions.

For the sake of continuity you may allow workers to watch some coverage on television or online or have the radio on in the background but do remember not everybody will be supporting Great Britain and any time away from work must be allocated fairly and without discrimination.  Thought should also be given to the potential health and safety risks of additional electrical equipment and the risks to IT security if employees bring equipment from home or access external websites.

Some businesses may decide it is more cost effective to close for a short period rather than manage the disruption which although possible in some circumstances, requires careful handling so advice should be taken before implementing this option.

Travel and Transport Disruption

If you know staff are likely to experience travel problems you may decide that homeworking or flexible working would be a sensible solution. Where this is not possible for operational reasons you may find other options such as booking accommodation, reorganising work, allowing staff to start late or leave early or offering unpaid leave work for your teams.

Absence Planning

A planned absence is easier to manage than an unplanned one.  Agreeing holiday may seem like a simple solution but it might still require operations to be scaled back or reorganised. Obviously if the summer is your peak period or you have client obligations it is possible you will have to decline holiday requests.  You are under no obligation to grant extra holidays or unpaid leave during the Games and all of your normal policies regarding holiday and leave continue to apply during the period.

Unplanned absence can increase during major sports events and should be tightly managed using your usual absence policy and procedures. Phoning in sick to watch the Games or being too hung-over are not acceptable, neither is turning up to work in an intoxicated state. Reminding employees of their obligations and the consequences of failing to meet those obligations, including disciplinary action, is a good idea.

If you have any employees  who are Olympic volunteers, or- Games Makers’ as they are known, they are likely to have booked holiday or arranged to take unpaid leave by now. If for any reason they have not this should be resolved as quickly as possible to avoid upset or operational problems later.

Other things to consider

  • Do you need to get a TV licence so employees can watch coverage at work?
  • Do you need to update your health and safety risk assessment for homeworking or the addition of electrical equipment like TVs or radios that might not be PAT tested?
  • Do you need to change internet security or settings to enable workers to watch coverage?

For advice on planning for the Olympics, contact me on 01480 387933 or email [email protected].