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How To Work the Olympics into Company Team Building

The 2016 Olympics are in full force, and passionate fans of the Rio Olympic Games are amped up and excited to cheer on their favorite athlete, team, and country.

Meanwhile, smart employers will take advantage of the team building and engagement opportunities the Olympic Games present.

“The Olympics can be a morale-booster and bring out team spirit in the workplace,” says Daryl Pigat, division director, OfficeTeam. “The Games provide an opportunity for workers to bond as they talk about results and root for their favorite sports or athletes,” says Pigat.

In recent years organizations have recognized that in order to stay competitive, it is not enough to focus on employee satisfaction at work, but it is vitally necessary to engage employees, says Ian Grundy, Head of Marketing and Communications of Adecco Asia Pacific.

“Engagement is about employees’ commitment and connection to their work – who and what conditions are motivating them to work harder,” says Grundy, who points out that many studies have linked employee engagement to factors such as employee performance, customer satisfaction, productivity, absenteeism, turnover and support of the organization, says Grundy.

Using the Olympics to engage can help build that engagement.

Some companies have the Olympics playing on TV in the break room. “I’ve also heard of companies having summer team-building events take on an Olympics theme with employees competing against each other in various events,” says Pigat. “Employers who want to have a little fun with the games can also consider an Olympics-themed trivia contest.”

Other ways to incorporate the Olympic Games, according to Pigat, is to decorate the office with images of key events or athletes along with famous quotes from the athletes.  

“A lot of the sayings and ideas that motivate athletes may also motivate employees, so posting some of those sayings up can be fun,” says Pigat.

Employers can also hold contests among staff, centered around which team or individuals will win the finals in a certain Olympic sport, or who will finish where in the final medal count, says Grundy. Management can get the staff to pick countries out of a hat or perhaps submit a vote for their favorite teams (or second-favorite team if everyone’s cheering for Team USA). The prize for winning the contest can vary as well, from gift vouchers to company perks such as additional days off.

Employee viewing parties can also be a big hit. Do you have a large contingent of workers from a certain country who are cheering for athletes or teams from their homeland? Let them organize a viewing party and invite all staff members. This is a great opportunity for co-workers to learn about a different country, and also learn more about the culture where their co-worker came from. Employee viewing parties supporting a favorite local athlete or favorite team can also be great team building opportunities.

“When big events occur in the earlier part of the night, there’s a prime opportunity to arrange for a viewing party for the staff,” says Grundy.

If Olympic activities start taking away from business priorities, that’s a red flag. It’s always a good idea to lead by example.

“If employees see that their managers are making sure business needs are attended to, they’ll be more likely to do the same,” says Pigat.

And remember, not everyone will be in the same Olympic spirit. And that’s okay.

“You cannot enforce fun,” says Pigat. “Participation in any Olympic-themed festivities should be purely optional.  Let employees weigh in on how they want to celebrate. They may be more enthusiastic about ideas that they came up with themselves.”

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Matt Krumrie is a career columnist and professional resume writer who has been providing helpful information and resources for job seekers and employers for 15+ years. Learn more about Krumrie via resumesbymatt.com, connect with him on LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/mattkrumrie/) and follow him on Twitter via @MattKrumrie.

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