The Olympics are a matter of weeks away and excitement is already gripping the nation. The Games are set to be the most memorable sporting event to hit London since the FIFA World Cup in 1966, with an estimated 8 million tickets sold and thousands more tourists expected to visit the capital for the duration of the Games. So what does this mean for the average business? How are business owners, managers and HR staff alike going to cope with the pressure of such a big event, without the relevant experience? 

Most business owners would agree that London hosting the Games is a double-edged sword. The event will bring much needed revenue into the country, with an expected £2billion boost to the tourist industry alone. However, the disruption and pressure caused will be noticeable and for most it will be a learning curve, finding the best course of action to face potential problems head-on when they arise.

Although not all businesses will have to adapt during the Olympics it’s important to evaluate soon if you will. Whilst some organisations won’t be inconvenienced at all others, notably around London, will not be able to avoid the games. Your two biggest dependents are location and industry or line of work so think carefully about these so you can make an informed decision.

If you’re based in Scotland you probably won’t be affected but would you need to travel south during the games whereby transport will be affected? Do you rely on deliveries or contractors that if affected will have a knock-on effect on yourself? Will a staffing issue arise with employees wanting to watch the games? Or are you certain that your workplace will remain the same? Whatever the question all businesses will be different so think ahead.

For those businesses that know the likelihood of being affected you may encounter transport issues, staff absenteeism and even low moral amongst your workforce but there are steps that can be taken to help avoid issues and ensure your business runs smoothly, known as the Three P’s – Planning, Prioritising and Performing.

Plan for success

Although the Games are fast approaching, there is still time to plan ahead, remembering the common expression ‘By failing to plan, your planning to fail’. Lack of planning means you will be inadequately prepared to deal with any issues that arise and you will waste crucial time resolving them.

Where possible, plan each day over the Olympic weeks, even if it is a rough guide that can be built on as the time draws nearer. Share your plans with your workforce to instil continuity and reassure them that the business will run as smoothly as possible during the Games.

From a recruitment perspective, all businesses should now have evaluated whether they need additional staff on a temporary basis to help cover the busy period, and any that haven’t need to decide as a matter of urgency in order to prepare and avoid strain when the time comes.

You need to take a number of things into consideration depending on the industry your in, the size of your business and your location. Try to evaluate factors such as how the workload for your business may increase during the Games, which employees are having authorized time off over the period, how your employees travel to work and how transport could affect them and your business. By taking all necessary precautions, you can come to a calculated decision, and ensure you continue to work at full capacity.

Staff absences will occur in a large majority of businesses, but the seriousness of this will vary according to locality and size. Industries such as security, hospitality, entertainment, tourism and transport will undoubtedly need additional staff, whilst other organisations won’t be affected by the influx of visitors.

Businesses across London have already made the decision to let a vast majority of employees work from home to resolve any potential commuting issues, whilst others plan to screen certain popular events or football matches to reduce absences or poor productivity.

Finally, don’t stretch the resources you have too far. Understandably, some businesses don’t want to hire contract staff or make temporary new hires for a short period of time, and some may want to try and oversee the busy period with the staff they have.

This means you’re expecting your staff to work even harder, longer hours, diversify roles to cover absentees and work under more pressure and with more distractions, especially for businesses operating in the centre of London. By increasing your expectations of your current employees, you could expect staff to become aggravated and feel over worked, making for an uncomfortable working environment.

Prioritise and perform – going for gold

For the majority of businesses, something will have to give during the Olympics, which is why prioritising is of paramount importance. Make a list of what needs to be done over the Olympic period, preferably done in the planning stage, which could include the tasks that need to be completed, the reputation you want to portray and the attitude you want to maintain.

By prioritising, you can delegate tasks based on their importance to minimise disruption and, if anything is to slip under the net, it should be a minor error as opposed to a major disaster. Let’s not forget that the Olympics will be a national event, and many companies outside London will also be affected. Businesses nationwide should be preparing for disruption and by putting a plan in action, you could boost your profits during this time.

We’re in no doubt that the Olympics will put considerable strain on businesses across the UK. However, executing a precise planning strategy could be the difference between succeeding and failing during the most prolific UK-based event of the last decade. Your workforce is your lifeline, which is why it is vital to keep them engaged and entertained; offering incentives or compromising with flexi-time could guarantee high staff moral and productivity, ensuring you see gold at the Olympic Games 2012.