Olympics absences to hit businesses?

Vanquish Integrated People Solutions is urging organisations to engage with their workforce and consider introducing flexible measures to discourage ‘sickies’ during the Rio Olympics.

The four hour time difference means that many of the Olympics’ biggest events are scheduled to take place during normal working hours and early hours of the morning, tempting employees to skip work or stay up later than normal to watch Great Britain’s gold medal hopefuls in action.

Olympics absences

Subsequently it is highly likely that the Olympics will trigger a wave of last minute holiday requests, higher levels of lateness and sickness absences, dips in productivity caused by tiredness, plus a surge in internet usage as employees try to keep up with the coverage.

“Just like athletes, organisations need to prepare for the Olympics. Sporting events can often have a massive impact on staff attendance but with the Olympics taking place at the height of the summer holidays, when organisations are already short-staffed due to school holidays, the impact of staff absences could be devastating,” says Nick Whiteley, General Manager at Vanquish Integrated People Solutions.

“As the nation gets gripped by the Olympics and employees realise that many of the gold medals will be decided in the early hours, managers need to brace themselves for an influx of last-minute requests for days off and the possibility of staff arriving to work late and a little bleary-eyed after their late night antics.

“Although the Olympics Opening Ceremony is just days away there’s still time to put a policy in place to support employees who wish to watch the Olympics. A quick consultation with staff members will help managers gauge interest in the Olympics and put necessary plans in place to avoid disruption and maintain productivity levels.”

Flexibility the key

Whiteley highlights that there are many options available to organisations to help balance the needs of their businesses with the enthusiasm of individuals.

“Rather than doing nothing or taking a hard stance on the matter, organisations should see the Olympics as an opportunity to engage with staff and trial temporary working arrangements.

“Offering employees the flexibility to work from home or make up lost time at the beginning or end of another shift is a simple way to improve staff morale. If it’s not feasible to offer flexi hours due to the nature of the business, encouraging staff to swap shifts could be a suitable alternative.

“Failing that, managers could bring a TV or radio into work or relax their rules surrounding Twitter and internet use in the workplace so employees can keep up with the action.”

“Whatever measures organisations introduce, managers must clearly communicate their arrangements and boundaries to employees to discourage sickness absence, apply the rules fairly and consistently so not to discriminate against individuals and enforce their absence policy by tracking lateness and sickies.”

Download your FREE Olympics guide

To help organisations plan ahead and minimise the disruption to their business, Vanquish has put together a handy guide of the stand-out events at the Rio Olympics and their dates and times, so managers can see the days when levels of absenteeism are likely to be highest.

Nick Whiteley adds: “Two stand-out dates on the guide are Sunday 14th and Monday 15th August. On these two dates interest in the Games is expected to be huge as Mo Farah, Greg Rutherford, Jessica Ennis-Hill and Usain Bolt are all competing in the early hours of the morning, meaning workers may only have three or four hours sleep before getting up for work.”

Click here to download your free guide

Rio email