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The Olympic Games – surely a morale booster, not an operational headache?

Posted by Steve Read on June 1, 2012

I’ve read a few articles over the last few months, all debating how employers should deal with staff who want time off during the Olympics.  One is on my desk right now - Is your boss a bad sport? By Martin King, The Guardian, 28/04/2012. This article I think typifies the sentiment in most of them: seven columns of mostly negative and alarmist concerns, surrounding a small panel with some positive ideas on ‘how to avoid falling out’.  Maybe I am naïve, but wouldn’t it just be so much better if everyone focused on the positives?  Even ‘avoiding falling out’ has a negative starting point.  The sage words from the employment lawyers clearly need heeding, but I am sure most managers and employees can sort out most requests for time off, with little effort, whilst accepting a few inevitable disappointments.

There is some excellent practice. SHL recruiters are ready, with staff being allowed to work flexibly wherever possible. It might be something to do with the fact that their MD is called Stephen Read. Clearly an advantage when it comes to good judgement…  However another employer informed all staff, via email, that lateness during the Games will not be tolerated, despite the fact that traffic in London is predicted to be significanty disrupted. Now I understand fully both the legal implications and the impact on a business of staff being late, but this could be handled so much better.  Firstly, wouldn’t a verbal briefing by a manager be a more appropriate form of communication?  Secondly, rather than a veiled threat, this employer could have used this as an opportunity to work with managers and teams to ensure both business continuity, and high morale

Sitting in a taxi in London the other day, the driver vented his spleen about the Olympics, bemoaning the fact that London would be busy, full of foreigners, and nothing would work. Sounds ideal for the taxi trade… The man should get a new job methinks.

I’m going to enjoy the Games, and I salute all employers who do as much as they can to allow as many of their employees as they can to watch as much of the Games as they can.

 

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