Where do the Olympics Belong in the Workplace?

As the first full week of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro
gets under way, employees all over the country are hoping to watch some of the
games and events that occur during the traditional working hours. When
something like this only comes around every four years, the excitement in the
workplace becomes palpable. But, as an employer, how do you make sure that your
employees are continuing to work hard, but still support Team USA?

Photo Source: Variety.com

Nearly half of
Americans—48 percent—anticipate they will watch a “great deal” or
“fair amount” of the 2016 Summer Olympics, according to a Gallup poll
released Aug. 2. If this is the case,
chances are some employees may try to sneak a peek of a live stream in their
office. According to Fox News, employees who catch a glimpse of television
coverage during the workday will cost employers an estimated $5.4 billion
during the course of the games, which run into late August.

Some employees may even use a sick day or vacation day to watch
highly anticipated events. If an employee receives advanced approval they are
free to use their PTO or vacation time how they please, even if it is to watch
the Olympics. Trouble may arise when employers are not given sufficient notice.
If an employee calls
in sick but the managers thinks the request is suspicious, an employer is
justified in asking for information for the basis of the sick leave, said Jay
Hux, an attorney with Fisher Phillips in Chicago. 

It’s important
to find the balance between maintaining the expectation that work needs to be
done but also allowing employees to embrace “Rio Fever.” Giving employees
leeway can increase their satisfaction, which is good for the overall benefit
of the company. Happy employees have been shown to directly influence business

Fagundo, an attorney with Taylor English in Atlanta suggests tuning into the
games on break room and conference room monitors and allowing long lunches or
breaks. She says to explain that while the company will offer employees
opportunities to catch part of the games, the company will expect everyone to
remain focused on their jobs or projects and continue to report their work
hours honestly.

Overall, the
Olympics are a very exciting time in our country, and one of the best times to
show how your business can support your employees. Consider how your
organization can adapt the rules to cheer on Team USA.


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