Half of employers to relax working practices during the Olympics

More than half of employers are to adopt a more flexible approach to working practices for staff during the Olympics and key football matches, says the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

Many businesses are to allow staff the opportunity to watch key events at work and allow for greater flexibility - including working from home and flexi time - for staff to avoid potential transport disruption.

According to data provided by the HR body, three in ten employers say they will accommodate requests from employees to work from home, where possible. A further 17 per cent will allow more flexible working opportunities, while 13 per cent will encourage staff to work from home.

Although employers have no legal obligation to cater for their employees sporting interests, the CIPD said that employers may take upcoming sporting events as an opportunity to rebuild morale and employee engagement that could have been hit by recent economic downturns.

Research adviser for the CIPD, Rebecca Clake, warned employers may also face additional challenges during the Olympics. Firms who provide public transport for their staff was cited as one area of concern.

"Some employers will have to manage their workforces carefully to ensure there are sufficient staff to deliver services. Our survey shows 35% of public sector employers are planning to restrict leave during the Olympics to cope with this challenge."

The research forms part of new guidance offered by the CIPD on employee absence management and this summer's sporting events such as the Olympics and the European Football Championships.

It suggests various approaches in which to accommodate for employee interests without compromising business requirements, including:

Flexible hours - allowing staff to start or end their working day earlier or later while still working core hours, or, allowing for time off during events providing it is made up on another day.

Shift swaps - allowing staff to swap shifts with those of a similar job role or ability, although more suited to organisations which provide a 24/7 service or production.

Screening events at work - this may be of interest to businesses located out of town, although employers may want to consider a screening policy to avoid misuse.

Also contributing to the report, Hays human resources director, Barney Ely, said that the Olympics was a 'golden opportunity' for businesses to review their flexible working practices.

"Communication is key to ensure both parties clearly understand and adhere to the guidelines around flexible working", he added.

"By embracing this exciting time companies will benefit from more engaged employees."