The London Olympics will be a “watershed moment” that embeds widespread flexible working practices in the UK, the Family and Parenting Institute charity has said.

According to the charity, the adoption of family friendly flexi-time by a large number of employers during the 2012 Games will leave a legacy that lasts long after the sporting celebrations have ended.

Dr Katherine Rake, chief executive at the institute, said: “Flexible working is a key aspect of ensuring London and other UK cities can host events successfully and maintain business-as-usual through the Olympics period.”

The CIPD supports the case for flexible working as a recent survey reported that 96% of UK employers already offer flexible working arrangements to at least some employees, and seven out of ten of these employers said it supports staff retention, motivation and engagement.

Some larger organisations, including BT and O2, already have plans in place to offer flexible working during the Games, including “working from home days”.  If successful, this type of flexibility could become a regular feature and would certainly benefit employees with families and other commitments.

Before the Games get underway, we now have the European Championships which kicked off this weekend.  Tomorrow at 5pm sees England’s first game, and this is sure to create interest in all parts of the UK.  Many employees have probably submitted holiday requests for specific games they want to see, however, employers can adopt a proactive approach and set aside an area of the workplace to show games that employees want to watch.  This will help reduce any unplanned absences and enhance employee engagement.

Some retailers can also use the matches as an opportunity to drive sales, for example, involve employees to pick products associated with each country and use this as an incentive in the workplace.

If you do have requests for time off, remember to review each case fairly and don’t leave yourself open to some form of grievance complaint.  For example, don’t accommodate time off for male employees only and ensure any member of staff from another country has the same opportunity as those who perhaps want time off to watch the England games.  Remember, Wimbledon is also just round the corner so tennis fans may wish time off when this starts so keep this in mind!

If you do show the matches in the workplace, remember to communicate the type of behaviour that is unacceptable, either to an employee or customer.

It’s a great summer of sport so do what you can to keep your staff at work and keep them motivated!

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