Feb 3, 2010

One-quarter of Canadian employers will provide access to Olympics: Survey

TV or online viewing of events and extra days off are some of the steps firms are taking to help workers celebrate the Games

With only a few weeks to go before the start of the 2010 Winter Olympics, many employers are planning to allow online or television viewing of the Games at work, according to a survey conducted by Hewitt Associates.

The survey of 123 organizations across the country found 25 per cent of respondents want to help their staff enjoy the Games, even though some events will occur during business hours.

"Excitement for the Games is building across the country, and especially in Vancouver," said Laura Williams, a consultant in Hewitt's Vancouver office. "Employers that have done some advance planning will be able to help their employees enjoy the Olympics with minimal impact on their business."

Employers cited the following measures as ones they are implementing most frequently to celebrate the Olympics at work with employees:

• providing a TV or authorizing online viewing so that employees can watch the Games at work during their breaks and/or after work hours and, in some cases, during regular work hours

• providing additional paid or unpaid time off to watch, attend or volunteer at the Games

• providing matching paid time off to volunteer, provided employees use vacation time as well

• buying tickets that are used to entertain customers or clients, as rewards for employees, or that employees can purchase for personal use.

Business preparedness plan

However, getting to the workplace may be difficult. Three-quarters of respondents have employees in Vancouver but only 54 per cent have created a business preparedness plan to address the challenges the influx of athletes, spectators and media will present for commuting employees.

"It was very surprising that more employers hadn't taken the advice of groups including the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) and established business preparedness or readiness plans," said Williams.

Solutions employers are including in their plans to address expected traffic issues are:

• suggesting employees use vacation time during the Games

• changing work hours, so that the work day starts and ends earlier

• allowing flexible work hours

• implementing a reduced workweek or reduced workday

• encouraging employees to use public transportation, rather than drive to work

• facilitating car pooling for employees

• enabling employees to work from home.

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