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How should HR deal with Olympic absences?

By 19/06/2012November 17th, 2021Employee Engagement
olympic absences

With the Olympic events taking place in the UK this summer, employers may experience higher absence rates. Though previous events such as football tournaments have presented similar problems, the sheer scale of the Olympics could cause more widespread issues than encountered in the past. So, how can employers manage this effectively and prevent ‘pulling a sickie’ from becoming the latest Olympic sport?

Whilst employers are under no legal obligation to offer time off for sporting events, it will be beneficial to adopt a flexible approach and try to accommodate planned absences wherever possible. This will be the best method for ensuring employee engagement and boosting staff morale. Encourage staff to book time off in advance and make it clear that any unauthorised absences will be dealt with in line with organisational policies and procedures. Allowing flexible working hours and shift-swapping could also be a much-welcomed offer for employees.

Though most employees will follow guidelines, it’s important that procedures are in place to manage those who don’t. Company policies should require staff to speak directly to their manager on each day of their absence. This will increase the pressure placed on employees who are not genuinely ill, whilst not imposing unreasonable requests upon those who are. Return-to-work interviews should be carried out meticulously, even for the shortest of absences.

If possible, employers could arrange for the events to be screened within the workplace. This is likely to have a great impact on team morale and could help to avoid employees taking the day off simply because they don’t want to miss the games. Ensure that this is communicated to staff in advance.

With some forward planning and strict adherence to policy, the Olympics needn’t cause unnecessary headaches for employers.