Monday August 20, 2012
By Ben Buet - Business Development Manager
For seven years there has been a constant buzz about, and build up towards, the Olympics. And rightly so; this was the first full Olympic Games the country had hosted since 1908, and the first time any City had held the honour of hosting three Olympic events.
Team GB performed better than any other British team before; collecting an array of gold, silver and bronze medals. Usain Bolt scored a golden hat trick followed by his now famous ‘To Di World’ pose. And we showed the world how to party, with incredible opening and closing ceremonies.
However it wasn’t just the athletes and winning countries who featured in the spotlight. The Games would not have been what they were without the help of the 70,000 volunteers, or now more commonly known as the ‘Games Makers’. These were the true unsung heroes of the Olympics; the ones who won over the hearts and minds of the tourists visiting London; showing the World what we are capable of.
These individuals worked as one team in order to carry out a wide variety of roles across each of the Olympic venues: from welcoming visitors, transporting athletes and directing crowds; through to helping out behind the scenes in the technology team to make sure the results were displayed as quickly and accurately as possible. I would imagine it was one of the largest and most diverse teams pulled together for an event; with each varying in age, ethnicity and backgrounds. It worked though; daily news reports spoke of the organisational skills, friendliness and superior helpfulness of all the London 2012 “people”.
Their efforts are a true demonstration of employee engagement at its very best. Often engagement is seen as something which can be derived from money and promotions. However it is much more than this, in fact in our research we found that things like communication, career progression, learning and development and good leadership were all viewed as higher motivators than money.
The Olympics volunteers were not paid for their time. They gave it and worked together because they had a common cause; in business we’d say a vision – they wanted to be a part of history; they wanted to make this the best games ever seen.
Take Rosemary Head, a 72 year old bus team member; she was recently quoted on the BBC as saying “I was a bit disappointed at first, but then people kept saying how lucky I was to be inside the village, and now I think it’s the best job in the world”
Or Kate, who worked at the Equestrian Centre for the duration of the Olympics. When asked why she volunteered she said “What I want to do is present London, the Olympic experience and Britain in a good light. I just want to be helpful...”
So the core of their engagement was the clear vision set out by Lord Sebastian Coe and LOCOG seven years ago; volunteers would be part of a once in a lifetime opportunity and they wanted individuals who were proud of their country to devote their time to the Olympics and showcase the best hospitality the UK had to offer. The Games Makers well and truly got behind this and, combined with everyone else who made the Games happen, they focused on the end goal and worked above and beyond to achieve.
And this is the very basis of something we call people-centricity. Ensuring all activities focus on the people; making sure strategy considers their roles, their development and their connection with the final destination. After watching the Olympics, many businesses across the world will have no doubt learnt that having engaged, enthused and excellent people is the only way to delight the ‘customer’ and reap the rewards – I’m sure that the almost guaranteed sell-out of the Paralympics next week has something to do with the highly engaged people who made the Olympics so special.
The job now is to continue this success. In only a few more weeks London 2012 will be over; only the venues and memories remaining. Culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt has recently stated he wants to see an extra 4.5 million visitors to the UK in the coming years; leading to a spending potential of an extra £2bn. The only way to achieve this is to keep the buzz about London and the UK going; not going back on the amazing hospitality we’ve offered our global counterparts.
We each have a role to play in achieving this mission – what are you and your business going to do to support? Do you have plans to hire any of the Olympic Games Makers?