Anthony Cooper, managing director of business intelligence company Pearlfinders, discusses how the Olympics has left UK corporate culture at its fittest
There has been a great deal of recent speculation surrounding what the Olympics would leave behind for UK business in its monumental wake.
Despite sceptics predicting a city-wide public transport Armageddon and only temporary economic benefit, the Olympics season has been undeniably successful and relatively (let’s not forget G4S) hitch-free. But as the curtain falls on the London stage, business leaders have been addressing the immediate and long term impacts of the games on corporate culture.
At Pearlfinders we have been interviewing decision makers in businesses across the UK, in order to produce reports for our clients about industry trends and market sentiment. Every corporate division will feel the effects of the Olympics on their business, but none more so than HR, according to intelligence we have gathered.
Unsurprisingly, almost half of the 1,200 HR directors we’ve interviewed so far are planning to introduce wellbeing initiatives focussing on improving the health of their employees. HR professionals understand the commercial benefits of a healthy workforce and the direct correlation improved health can have on productivity and efficiency in the workplace.
In the years leading up to the Olympics there was a media deluge of health and fitness related information and stories, the messages of which have been etched onto the HR agenda. Employee wellbeing has become a priority during the countdown to and during the games, and we can safely expect it to remain a priority for years to come.
The overwhelming support from the UK public for Team GB athletes such as Jessica Ennis and Bradley Wiggins in the lead up to their Olympic success has also instilled a competitive spirit in UK corporate culture. By focusing on team progress and milestones and ‘Personal Best’ initiatives, many businesses are capitalising on this widespread enthusiasm for competition by encouraging their employees to reach set goals and targets.
The Olympics has also made management aware that it’s not always necessary for employees to be in the office from nine to five, and flexible and remote working concepts have flourished alongside an influx of new cloud software and data storage technologies that can offer cost effective solutions for both HR directors and CIOs. The growing expectation for flexible working options was catalysed by the Olympics as departments implemented large-scale technology strategy in order to accommodate the inevitable strain and disruption to the transport infrastructure during the summer.
While some of the impacts on corporate culture will be felt for much longer than others, the summer of sport has certainly breathed new life into UK business attitudes. An appetite for competition and a lasting focus on the wellbeing of employees can only mean good things as this historic event draws to a close.