· 2 min read · News

Hot topic: Does HR have a role in securing an Olympic legacy?


Following the triumph of the Olympic Games in London, the former culture secretary Jeremy Hunt had been vocal about the imperative to keep the Olympic momentum going into legacy. The volunteer games-makers have been praised for their friendliness and customer service skills and these are cultural attributes HR can nurture in employees. But is there an imperative for HR directors to do their bit to ensure an Olympic legacy and are they optimistic about this potential for future investment?

Caroline Lowe, HRD at Hilton London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5

The catchphrase of the 2012 Olympic Games was 'to inspire a generation', and in line with this, our HR focus is committed to the creation of opportunities for our future workforce.

Our links with educational partners, including the Academy of Culinary Arts and University of West London, help us to do this through training, coaching, encouragement and guidance, to help our employees of the future to be winners of the future as well.

The Games have reignited the belief that benefits can come from the creation of a winning culture within an organisation.

I believe in the power of developing behaviours to create a shared sense of focus and ensure the full potential is achieved, for our brand and employees.

Central to the whole London 2012 project has been ensuring the Games are inclusive and open to everyone. As a large employer, we focus on supporting this by working with communities, children and businesses to enhance the lives around us.

There are links between the hospitality industry and the Olympic and Paralympic values of respect, excellence, friendship, courage, determination, not to mention inspiration and equality.

Our Hilton values, although named differently, link directly to those of the Olympic legacy: hospitality (delivering excellence every day), integrity (respect yourself and those around you by doing the right thing), leadership (determination is encouraged, along with hard work), teamwork (work together to gain friendship and equality), ownership (it takes courage to take ownership of mistakes - but mistakes are what makes us learn).

As a new hotel, we have set up an inspiring culture, including our training programme. This focuses on developing a winning team, celebrating passion and achievement, and creating a positive team culture, which we hope will become part of our own legacy - as well as of London's as a whole.

Sharon Glancy, director at The People 1st Training Company

The Olympic Games have inspired so many. In lots of ways, it has been the ultimate lesson in employee engagement. The Games showed uniting people under a common goal - with clear individual roles and investment in skills - produces results.

Prior to the Games, it wasn't only the athletes that trained.

Thousands of volunteers, including the 70,000 'games-makers', who received training from LOCOG, with help from McDonald's, were trained using content from the WorldHost customer service training programme.

Using the full programme we have been working with HR departments in transport, travel and tourism businesses to create an industry standard of service.

After the Games and into the Paralympics, we will continue to work with them and many more HR directors that want to sustain the enthusiasm for excellence London 2012 has inspired.

Beyond customer service, there are a variety of skills integral to staff development and company performance that HR managers can consider. Now could be the right moment to create a training and support strategy for those young, first-time managers who have been catalysed by the performance of young sportsmen and sportswomen.

If that is something you have in place, looking at how your succession planning is inspiring your next generation of leaders is another area to consider.

There is a strong feeling that the momentum businesses created in preparing for the Games needs to be harnessed to ensure a meaningful legacy for the UK.

HR directors should take this opportunity to underline the importance of the HR function and invest in staff and a shared vision while so many people's passion and desire to develop to their personal best is high.