Law firm offers retailers top employment tips for the Olympic Games

Amy Alexander, trainee solicitor at law firm Dundas & Wilson, helps retailers get in shape for the Olympics and advises how they can best manage their teams and time

Whether cheering Usain Bolt in the Olympic stadium; watching Sir Chris Hoy from the comfort of your own armchair; or fleeing the country to escape all the fuss, next month the greatest show on earth will be unavoidable at home and at work. As retailers pray for an Olympic-inspired bumper sales boost, we have top tips to help them make the most of the Games:

Warming up

Retailers in London or with London stores should have considered by now how they will deal with the Games. Ideally employee resource, transport issues and service disruption will have been considered alongside the impact on HR policies such as remote working, holidays and flexible working. 

Retailers outside London will also be affected, but not to the same extent. For example, suppliers coming from London may be delayed and deliveries may be affected. Have you reviewed your supply chain? 

August is the height of the holiday season, managing holiday requests around the Games will be critical. You can’t make sales if you don’t have staff to open your stores. 

The Games

You want to see the Games. Your staff want to see the Games. You can maintain good employee relations by allowing – where possible – the working day to be ‘flexed’, either by way of early starts or early finishes. For some staff, working from home may be an option. But for those in-store you could allow extended breaks to watch big events. 

For staff who need to get into work for a certain time, you should take a view on whether to be more lenient with lateness, given the expected travel disruption.

Many retailers will be hoping for a substantial boost in sales during the Games, and you may wish to consider operating a specific incentive scheme to cover the Games period to motivate staff.

You can follow the Games on TV, online and on mobiles. If Jessica Ennis is about to clinch the gold you should expect that staff will be checking mobiles or watching online. You may want to remind everyone of your policy on internet access during working hours. If you do allow reasonable access, you may wish to explain the scope of what will be acceptable to minimise overuse of the internet at peak times. Your policies on accessing social media and any rules on gambling should also be reiterated to staff. However, be sensible with restrictions, no one wants to be splashed in the press as the Olympic Games scrooge.

Another way to motivate staff is to organise screenings of popular events. This could avoid the temptation to access events either on mobile devices or on a computer. By offering some Games coverage, you should see less holiday requests and unexpected absences.

Cooling down

Finally, if an employee doesn’t attend work during the Games period you should think about how you will deal with their absence when they get back. Check your sickness absence policy clearly conveys what is expected of employees and what the implications are for policy breach. 

The Olympics Games in London will be a once in a lifetime event. And, just like our medal hopefuls, you will give yourself the best chance of success by preparing for the Games in advance. But don’t worry if you have done little (or nothing!), it’s not too late – remember even the tortoise can still win the race.