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Sporting Events 2012

» Posted on: 29 March 2012

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Summer 2012 sees the exhibition of Europe’s finest footballers with the European Championship 2012 followed by the pinnacle event of the athletics calendar with London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.

But what challenges could employers face in ensuring that productivity and staffing levels are maintained during these events?

It is anticipated that almost all employers are likely to encounter some problems, with issues such as over-demand for time off, maintaining staffing levels,
inappropriate sickness absence or misuse of the internet at work.

To a large extent many such issues are inter-linked. For example, how holiday requests have been and are being dealt with will reserve a degree of control over staffing levels to the employer. Even so, predicting staffing need now and how that might be resourced against a back drop of requests for holiday leave, should address potential staffing difficulties later on.

Here are Some Suggestions of Issues That Employers Need to Consider:

Assess Staffing Need:
Do you anticipate business will increase? For example is your business involved in the hotel, catering or transport sectors, particularly if it is based in a location where Olympic events are due to take place? Or might your workloads reduce slightly, allowing your business greater staffing flexibility for the few weeks of these sporting events? Is any one part of your business likely to be more affected than another?

Review Current Operations:
Consider whether a change to current working patterns or arrangements might better suit existing clients whilst these sporting events are taking place, thereby allowing you to maintain existing business; for example, retailers or catering businesses may want to change or extend hours of opening.

For those in cities hosting events, can business be conducted elsewhere or staff relocate to other offices temporarily (or it might be beneficial for some workers to work from home to avoid traffic congestion, for example)? Could such change offer increased trade opportunity during these sporting events?

Check Your Employment Contracts:
Before you can assess properly possible options for changing working hours or working arrangements, it is essential that you are aware of any flexibility within the employment contracts of your staff (if any). For such changes to be lawful, even if only temporary in nature, they cannot be imposed unilaterally by the employer. Do your contracts allow for changes in role or location or do they permit over time, for example? If not and you perceive you may require such flexibility, might you be able to agree changes with staff? Or, is there anything else you can do to bring about the changes? How long will it take and what might it cost?

Check Existing Policies eg Holiday and Flexible Working:
It is important that employers have clear policies that are fairly applied in the context of staffing levels during these sporting events. In the event you expect staff time off during or around these sporting events to be limited, are there flexible working options you can employ which might allow staff to follow these sporting events but will still meet staffing needs? For example, early or later start or finish times to the working day, job-sharing or revised working patterns? Is home-working a feasible option? Think about how you will deal with any requests from staff for such arrangements. Will a pre-existing flexible working policy or home-working policy provide a suitable framework?

Asking More of Your Staff:
If an increase in staffing levels will be needed or replacement cover sought for staff taking time off, how will this be met? Are there parts of the business which are less affected and might offer additional resource? Or, if hours of work of existing staff are likely to be extended, do your contracts already allow for this and how it will offered or be paid? As above, check existing contracts to see what is already possible? In any event, consult with staff, many of whom may be prepared to agree the changes.

Engaging Temporary Staff:
Although only short term, if increased productivity is needed to meet demand, additional staff will need to be sourced and trained in readiness. Consider now where these will come from. Recruitment agencies will be under pressure, so enquiries should be made as early as possible. What terms will be offered and what will the cost be? If workers will be recruited from abroad are there any work permit issues that need to be considered in advance? Timing is likely to be key, in terms of availability of staff as well as training opportunities. Those businesses which leave it late may find a lack of available or skilled staff and little opportunity for training.

Although, for the majority of employers it is likely to prove difficult to predict with any certainty their staffing needs so far in advance of the Summer’s sporting events, retaining flexibility will be key and the most positive outcomes are likely to be achieved by employers who communicate with their staff over this and seek their buy-in to the needs of the business over the short period of the Euros and Olympics/ Paralympics.

Finally, employers ought not to forget also that staff may have different allegiances ie other than to England or Team GB (as well as none at all). Fairness of approach to all interests of staff will be vital to ensure business continues to operate as smoothly as possible during the Euros and the Olympics/Paralympics but, more importantly still, for the future harmony and trust of its workforce!

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