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Those of you who enjoyed the recent Olympic torch event in and around Bowness will be well aware that the 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games are nearly here taking place between 27th July – 12th August and 19th August – 9th September respectively. Whilst the focus will be mainly on London, this historic event is likely to have some repercussions on your staff on almost all businesses in some way.
Obvious problems include travel disruptions for your employees for journeys close to the Capital or delivery delays where individuals need to use one or more of the 109 miles of road earmarked for the Olympic Route network. These routes will change on a daily basis so it might be worth checking with Transport for London on their website for the latest information on road closures and temporary changes to traffic rules in the area to avoid costly delays. Don’t forget that Cardiff, Manchester, Newcastle & Glasgow are all hosting Olympic football events. There are rowing, sailing and canoeing events at Weymouth, Portland, Windsor, Eton, Cheshunt & Waltham Cross and cycling events in and around Sevenoaks, Surrey and Leigh-on-Sea.
Then there is the question of leave requests for the 70,000 volunteers at the Olympics not to mention all those who have been lucky enough to get tickets to attend events and staff who will want time off to watch the more popular events on the TV or over the internet all with the potential to slow down your IT systems or reduce productivity.
So if you haven’t taken action already here are some suggestions on making sure that it is business as usual for you.
- Spell out your annual leave rules for the Olympics now so that you are not left understaffed. Many organisations around London have already limited leave during the games and confirmed that requests from individuals who have been selected as volunteers will not be treated preferentially over other staff. Contrary to popular belief, there is no statutory right to unpaid time off as a volunteer; it is still a matter of negotiation between employee and employer.
- Clarify how you intend to deal with leave requests. Will it be on a first come first served basis or priority given to families for example and consider setting a cut-off date for applications?
- Make it clear up front that watching events on TV’s or personal mobile devises or over the internet whilst at work must not adversely affect productivity. Employ the ‘give and take’ approach of allowing staff to participate in their country’s success in the Games by taking personal responsibility to ensure productivity in their area is not adversely affected. Look at restricting access to certain places at work such as the canteen or mess rooms.
- Plan your travel or delivery routes in advance by checking information on the transport routes in the South East as you may be surprised at the impact and extent of the Olympic Route network and travel restrictions.
- Prepare for an increase in sickness levels and manage these proactively by clarifying before the Games that any short term absences may be challenged.
Finally, it is always good practice to keep staff informed about your expectations over the period. Communicate regularly with your staff using your usual avenues of communication such as notice boards and the company intranet but if you anticipate problems, communicate a little more.