The Summer Olympics, and the opening up of the UK

By Rachael Smedley | News & Press | 4 min read

Last week, the UK opened back up, lockdown restrictions were lifted, and the public were asked to take personal responsibility for containing outbreaks of the virus.

This coincided with a week that saw record cases of COVID, as well as the start of the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games, where a state of an emergency was called throughout the host nation, banning spectators from watching any of the live events. It’s safe to say, this is not exactly what we were expecting with ‘Freedom Day’. 

With that said, many people around the globe have relished the opportunity to watch live sport once again (whether that be from their living rooms or at the local). Businesses will want to know how to best support their workforce, where many will look to enjoy the good weather and their new found social freedoms, yet others will feel uncomfortable with the lifting of restrictions. 

HR is in the best position to communicate the business vision for the rest of the month and the foreseeable future to management and teams. So, how exactly can they help?

 

Working from home, or in the office

Government guidance might state that we are free to return to the office, but is this what your employees really want? If you are in a position where staff can still work from home then it is certainly worthwhile getting the opinion of your workforce before implementing new office schedules. 

With cases rising and the ‘pingdemic’ causing havoc for many industries unable to operate with depleted workforces, the sensible option would be to stop, think, and listen to the concerns of employees. Some of which may wish to return to office and some who may wish to remain at home. 

One-to-one meetings, surveys, and polls are all great ways to get a better idea of who is ‘in’ for the office return, and who is ‘out’. Lets face it, we have managed for 15 months at this point, what’s another couple of months to make our staff feel safe and supported?

 

Football stayed away, and so did your staff

While the Edays team are here hoping for an Olympics with many gold medals for team GB, the reality for England football fans was far from this, with hopes for an international trophy ending with defeat in penalties.

The Monday following the EUROs final saw a 23.4% increase in sickness when compared to previous Mondays, and a similar display of staff absence was seen in the lead up to the finale too. Additionally, the final day of the premier league saw a 34% increase in unplanned absence cases among UK employees, as well as a spike amongst Construction & Building workers correlating with England games during June that was almost four times the average amongst other industries. 

Does this link between sporting success and unplanned absence mean that the same may happen during the Olympics? Maybe. If so, businesses will also have to cope with an increase in booked summer holidays, individuals having to self-isolate, seasonal sickness, and unplanned absence all at once. The question for HR is… are you ready for this?

 

Have you got a firm hold over employee absence?

We love to hear from businesses who do not rely on paper and spreadsheets to manage staff absence. It means they have got a better grip of what is going on day-to-day with employees and are able to plan ahead. 

Sadly this is not as common as we’d like as absence management often falls short of board-level discussions, and HR teams and management are left to scrabble to understand who is in, who is not, and whether they have enough staff to continue working efficiently and productively. 

Absence technology offers insight and data that can not only be used from a planning perspective but can lead to action within teams, offering managers and individuals autonomy and visibility of planned absence and unplanned illness. In some cases it helps support employees who feel burnout or stressed, and offers a chance for team leaders to signpost individuals to support, or encourage them to take time off.