Olympics 'Games Makers' - the impact on your business

Added On: 13th October 2010

Olympics 'Games Makers' - the impact on your business

The programme organising volunteers to become “games makers” and assist at the Olympic Games is now open to applications. Now is the time to start thinking about how you will respond to requests for time off from employees - those selected could be looking for at least 10 days off work, or 20 days if they volunteer for the Paralympics too.

A logical first step is to be clear what your organisations attitude to the idea of staff acting as volunteers at the Games is. For example:

  • do you see this as having a potential benefit in that your employees may gain useful new skills and experience?

  • does the nature of your business mean that you are not going to be able to accommodate additional numbers of staff being absent?

  • would you like to be supportive if possible?

Whatever your approach, your policy and practice needs to support and be consistent with this. Once you are clear about your approach you should consider any existing policies on time off such as those dealing with holidays or discretionary time off and determine whether these adequate, do they need to be amended, or should you draw up something to deal specifically with this unique circumstance?

It is a good idea to engage with employees at an early stage. Some will apply anyway and deal with the issue of time off if they are successful, but others will want to know how their employer intends to handle time off requests before considering whether to apply. It will also help if you familiarise yourself with the options and obligations for volunteers – for example not all volunteers are required during the Games themselves; they are needed in the build up period as well. Encouraging staff to be flexible in what they volunteer to do and when, could potentially increase their chances of success as well as making it easier for you to accommodate their requests for time off.

A key factor for employers to consider is that applicants to the scheme will not find out whether they have been successful until the end of 2011. You may then face a flurry of requests for time off; if employees are clear what your approach and policy is you are likely to face fewer difficulties is you are unable to accommodate every request.