As a nation of self-confessed sports lovers anticipation is rising in Australia in readiness for a major year in sport. Australians are getting ready for February’s Winter Olympics, April’s home-turf Commonwealth Games and come June, the FIFA world cup.
Aaron McEwan, HR advisory leader at Gartner says that a big year of sports will bring HR managers a raft of challenges and opportunities when it comes to balancing productivity and engagement across the workforce.
“We’re all familiar with the that blurry-eyed worker who’s been awake since 3am watching the games, but this year it’s going to be distractions during working hours where HR will struggle to get the most from their workers,” says Mr McEwan.
According to Mr McEwan, organisations must rethink their engagement tactics if they want to balance participation with productivity; ensuring they’re catering to the needs of the entire workforce.
“Some people love sport and some are just not interested,” he notes. “Laying down the law and not allowing people to get involved in the games is a sure-fire way to kill engagement and increase sick leave and absenteeism. At the same time, forcing the games to be part of the work environment isn’t going to work either.”
Mr McEwan says that offering flexible work and choice to employees is the key to capitalising on the games and turning distraction into engagement.
“Greater flexibility is on the wish list of many Australian workers,” he notes. “Giving employees the option to start later, leave early or even work from home is a great way to keep employees productive but also lets them watch the events they want.”
Where flexible work arrangements aren’t an option, getting creative with ways to bring the games into the office can have a number of benefits to both employers and employees. However, choice is key. “Participation in office games should never be forced, but having the option there for employees is a good way to boost morale, increase staff satisfaction and positively impact an organisations culture,” concludes Mr McEwan.
Gartner research shows that every 10 per cent improvement in engagement can decrease an employee’s probability of departure by 9 per cent.