The four-hour time difference means that many of the biggest events of the Olympics 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.
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, according to Vanquish Integrated People Solutions.
Nick Whiteley, general manager at the organisation says that sporting events can often have a massive impact on staff attendance but with the Rio Games 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.
‘As the nation gets gripped by Olympic fever 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,’ he adds.
Although the Opening Ceremony is just two 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.’
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,’ Whiteley says.
‘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.’
He adds that, 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.