Many U.K. employers to allow greater flexibility during Olympics: Survey

One-third will make TVs available

More than one-half of employers in the United Kingdom are making changes to working practices during the Olympics to enable staff to work more flexibly or watch key events at work, according to a survey released by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

Almost three in 10 employers will try and accommodate requests from employees to work from home, 17 per cent will extend flexible working opportunities and 13 per cent will actively encourage staff to work from home, found the CIPD/Hays 2012 Resourcing and Talent Planning survey of more than 500 employers.

Almost one-third (31 per cent) of employers will make TVs available in the workplace and 11 per cent will allow employees to view events online on their work computer.

"The Olympics is a golden opportunity for U.K. businesses to review their flexible working policies to ensure they are supporting their staff. Communication is key to ensure both parties clearly understand and adhere to the guidelines around flexible working. By embracing this exciting time, companies will benefit from more engaged employees,” said Barney Ely, director at Hays human resources.

The Olympics are an opportunity to build morale and employee engagement and the key is for employers to communicate very clearly what their policy is, such as whether employees are allowed to keep track of games online or whether they take a zero-tolerance approach, said Rebecca Clarke, research adviser at CIPD.

"Just as importantly, employers should remind staff of the organization’s policy on absence and misuse of alcohol, making clear that it is unacceptable to take time off sick, either to watch matches/events or to recover from the aftermath of long evenings in the pub in front of a big screen. It is, of course, also unacceptable to turn up to work so hung over that you are incapable of doing any work. Employers should make clear there are disciplinary consequences for taking unauthorized time off without good reason or not performing or misbehaving at work."

The CIPD has released new guidance on sporting events and absence management to highlight the range of options employers can consider to minimize disruption to the business and help employees make the most of the Olympics and other sporting events such as the European Football Championships.

"Options such as flexi-time and home working can enable employees in parts of the country — likely to face travel disruption as a result of the Olympics — to spend their time working rather than stuck in traffic jams or adding to the pressure likely to be faced by our public transport system,” said Clarke.

Some employers, such as those providing public transport, will face additional demands during the event and the survey found 35 per cent of public sector employers are planning to restrict leave during the Olympics to cope with this challenge.

The sporting events and absence management guidance is available at CIPD.

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