Are your HR policies ready for the Olympics?

Question: The start of the 2012 Olympics is approaching fast! Is your business ready? Answers: a. We’re not based in the centre of London! b. Nothing positive to gain? c. Still plenty of time! d. We can deal with anything as it arises? e. No some summer London 2012 event dates are shown here, click to go to Olympics competition dates

If you are answering a-e from the answers on the right, or are unsure whether ‘this Olympics thing’ is really important to your business – please read on.

Most of the Olympic activity will be within the school summer holidays when managing employee holiday time and the resultant skeleton staff is usually difficult enough. Now add the impact of 10.8million tickets being sold for Olympics and Paralympics spectators and 70,000 volunteers giving ten days each to help run the Games. Don’t forget the combination of other summer events; see right for just a sample, also drawing thousands away from work. Are your HR policies ready to handle the increase in holiday requests?

Head of culture and sports group at Kent County Council, Chris Hespe said, “This is the greatest show on earth – it’s the equivalent of having a G20 summit, two FA cups and a Wimbledon every day for two weeks in London”. Although maybe a slight exaggeration by Hespe; this is definitely an event that many of your employees won’t want to miss, even if just by catching some of the TV/Internet coverage. Are your HR policies ready to provide flexible working hours to enable watching of the Games with minimal interruption to your business?

While most of the festivities are to be held across London (see affected areas), there will be a wide range of events all across the UK including ‘Live sites’. The Torch Relay preceding the opening ceremony comes within 10miles of 95% of people in the UK*. Events and cultural celebrations, large and small, are being held all along the relay route so it would not be surprising if many of your employees are involved in the celebrations at some point (Torch route information) . Such events can lead to a splurge in unauthorised absence, not only from employees forgetting to book off holiday in time, but also from post celebration malaise. Are your HR policies ready for an increase in pressure from unauthorised absence?

Heavy traffic can be expected around events including those not in the capital, and knock-on effects can be expected on alternative routes from vehicles trying to avoid the worst of it. This traffic may have a considerable effect on staff punctuality. Have expectations/alternatives been communicated with affected staff to reduce the impact on your business?

Acas Chief Executive John Taylor said: “We’re finally on the home straight to the 2012 Olympics and employers should have plans for managing employees’ involvement whether volunteering or those watching the events.” Read our factsheet to help you check that your business HR policies are ready!

*UK, Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey