The Olympics: are your employees ready to bolt out the door?

The 2016 Olympic Games will host 306 events across 42 sports so it’s possible that employers may notice a potential increase in:

  • holiday requests;
  • time off in lieu requests;
  • average sickness absence;
  • excessive internet use for the wrong reasons during working time; or
  • alcohol consumption and unauthorised leave during this time.

How can employers maintain necessary employee engagement during the Olympics and prevent issues arising in the first place?  The answer lies in planning and managing business risk by putting measures in place to stop any workplace disruption ahead of time.

The Olympics will only last for a short period but all decisions need to be considered fairly and consistently across all staff. Employers must be careful they do not discriminate by only offering benefits to staff that are interested in sport.

We look at five ways employers could manage workplace risks associated with Olympics.

  1. Consider temporarily adopting a more flexible approach to holiday requests.
  2. There is potential to adopt a more flexible working day during the Olympics. Companies could allow employees to start and finish a little earlier so they can complete their contractual hours but still view some events at home.
  3. A change in how lunch breaks are taken could enable employees to watch the key events without the business suffering too much disruption.
  4. Employers could look at employees on shift patterns and suggest shift swaps so they can watch the certain events. Shift swaps will need managerial approval and no one can be forced to swap their shift.
  5. Host the key events in the office by bringing in a TV. Or help employees feel engaged by letting them listen to radio commentary or watch it on the internet so employees feel engaged.

All of these are great morale boosters that can help teams bond. These methods of engaging employees can be fairly low cost compared to a staff event or an away day.

In spite of this, employers that do not wish to embrace the Olympics are under no obligation to allow time off.  In all cases an organisation will opt for an approach that suits them and fits with their culture and absence policies.

If employers would like to discuss how best to manage risks associated with authorised and unauthorised absences, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Steve Sweetlove or your usual RSM contact.