Building the Olympic family: Adecco has its whole team at work on 2012

 
Marc Sidwell
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COUNTDOWN TO THE LONDON 2012 OLYMPIC GAMES

303 DAYS TO GO

Steve Girdler lays out the business case for becoming the official recruiter for London’s organising committee

Q.WHAT WAS YOUR BRAND’S PRIMARY REASON FOR BEING INVOLVED WITH THE GAMES?

A.We’ve been involved in a number of Games in the past. In this one we’ve taken a step up – as a Tier Two sponsor, it’s the biggest Olympic commitment Adecco has ever made. There are a number of reasons we’ve done it. One is that the recruitment business is very fragmented – the top five firms are barely 20 per cent of the market – so it can be hard to get your business’s nose above the parapet. This was an opportunity for us to have a unique voice. Secondly, the world of recruitment is sometimes not seen as important as some others in business, but in reality we provide people – the most important part of any business. This was a way to demonstrate that we could recruit all the people who are going to put on the greatest show on earth – the biggest post-war mobilisation of labour the UK has seen – and just by taking on that role we can demonstrate a strategic role for a business with our expertise and skill: if we can do that for the Olympic Games, just think what we can do for other businesses.

Q.HOW DID YOU STRUCTURE THE CASE FOR INVOLVEMENT TO THE BOARD?

A.I wasn’t there at the time, but it’s a hard-nosed business decision. We had to quantify the incremental business we could get, both during the Games and post-Games. It was a chance to demonstrate that we can deliver this most complex of projects and tear it all down again, but it was also good for internal engagement. We’ve been through two acquisitions since signing up, Spring Group in 2009 and MPS Group in 2010, and this is a common cause that our people can feel proud of and feel a part of. We have volunteers, ten torchbearers will be representing Adecco – there’s a massive amount of internal engagement. We’re holding an Olympic-themed conference in February, and we’ve purchased tickets for internal competitions and incentives.

Q.WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST SURPRISE?

A.We didn’t go in thinking diversity was going to be such a major part of what we were going to do, but we realised early on that this was such an important commitment of LOCOG’s – to make London 2012 the most inclusive Games ever – and we saw too that there was a chance for us as an industry to use the creative spark of the Games to improve and develop practical tools to allow us and our clients to deliver a more diverse workplace. I believe that will have a legacy for us and help make UK business stronger and more competitive in the marketplace.

Q.HOW HAVE YOU STRUCTURED YOUR BUSINESS TO MAXIMISE OPPORTUNITIES?

A.Perhaps differently to a number of others, we haven’t put an Olympic team together apart from the LOCOG team we have onsite there. I head the Olympic partnership up, but we use existing departments to deliver the programmes so there’s not a separate team and everyone else feeling a little disassociated. We haven’t set up a separate structure other than me.

Q.HOW DID THE ANNOUNCEMENT THAT YOU WERE INVOLVED AFFECT YOUR BUSINESS?

A.Right from the 2009 announcement there’s been a significant reaction from employees – it’s very exciting for us all to be part of this once in a lifetime opportunity, and as I say, that’s why we’ve set up a structure that means everyone can be part of London 2012. In terms of business opportunities, we’ve been able to build relationships with the other sponsors, and that’s one of the real positives – you start to look at areas you can work together on. Adecco’s a global organisation and so are many of the others in this Olympic family, and we’re building strong business relationships that will last beyond the Games. We’re involved in planning for Sochi in 2014 and Rio 2016 and so are many of the others, so those relationships will continue.

Q.HOW WILL YOU LEVERAGE YOUR SPONSORSHIP AFTER THE GAMES?

A.It’s not just about the employment opportunities at LOCOG. It has said there’s some 200,000 roles that will be delivered as part of the Games and that’s our bread and butter – we wanted the opportunity to be part of that from a recruitment perspective. And we want to make sure the talented, diverse, local workforce we bring together for the Games isn’t lost afterwards. We’re working with the six host boroughs and the Olympic Park Legacy Company to ensure that happens, and we launched jobsforthegames.co.uk, the official jobs board for the Games, earlier this year and that will continue for the foreseeable future. The Olympics is a huge opportunity and companies should be embracing it and gearing up now.

Steve Girdler is director of the London 2012 partnership for Adecco.