Are you ready for the Olympics?

Originally published in September 2011, this post is recycled regularly whenever there is a major sporting or public occasion!

Over the last few weeks I’ve noticed a raft of “Olympics” policies and briefings issued by various organisations. Now I know it’s good marketing advice to tie in your public comments with a current event or issue, but an Olympics policy? When we are trying to encourage business to be flexible and both managers and staff to behave responsibly, do we need to tie them down with yet another set of rules? And how, precisely, do these Olympics policies differ from the World Cup policies being touted last year, or the Royal Wedding advice that was available in the spring?
I used to work for a bus company that operated hundreds of buses, involving thousands of drivers, in Merseyside and North London. When Liverpool played Arsenal in the Cup Final one year, did I write out an FA Cup Final policy for our garage managers to follow?  No – in fact as HR Manager I left matters completely in the hands of frontline staff and managers, who with a mixture of shift swaps, overtime and knowledge that for every football fan there was a driver who wasn’t interested in football (or was an Everton or Spurs fan!), ensured that services were covered.
It’s really a question of “work-life” balance.  If an individual has a particular interest in something happening outside work and you can accommodate a request for time off then there’s no problem. Equally if it’s an event that happens during working hours, is it really going to be that disruptive to let staff keep track of it while working? (after all, even with false starts, Usain Bolt can run 100m in less than 10 seconds).  Forward planning, not rules and procedures, is what is needed.

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