Ignite the spirit of the Games Makers in our employees

FAREWELL then, to the undisputed stars of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games – the Games Makers will be missed.

Overnight, London became a friendlier place. Anyone who was helped by them, or who heard the prolonged applause for them at the closing ceremonies, will know they rose to the occasion brilliantly and contributed hugely to the incredible success London 2012 was.

The Games Makers have shown the world how good British customer service can be. It will boost the confidence of the whole hospitality sector, which is good news for jobs and skills.

What’s important now is that we capture the spirit that made them such a powerful force, and apply the learnings as widely as possible to give the economy a spring in its step.

I’ve been reflecting on what made 70,000 people win the nation’s goodwill in such short order. I believe it’s down to three factors: the long-term commitment they made to give up their time; the quality training they received; and the impact of seeing the difference they were making.

Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of a Games Maker.

First, they bought into being a volunteer two years out from this summer. They committed to seeing the job through long before they got anywhere near a Games venue. Locog deserves much credit for creating this loyalty. It’s a reminder to all businesses of the power of your workforce when they feel proud of what they’re doing.

Second, it’s a relatively well-kept secret that the Games Makers received unprecedented training to prepare them for their moment in the spotlight. This was the first time an Olympic and Paralympic Games Organising Committee turned to a commercial partner to support the volunteers every step of the way.

McDonald’s stepped into this role because we know a fair bit about working in a fast-paced environment, providing quick, consistent customer service to 2.5m people every day. We worked with Locog for three years to help them create the selection and training programme for the volunteers.

We have extended our philosophy to help people fulfil their potential by offering a nationally recognised customer service qualification to those Games Makers who can benefit from it most. This is a timely reminder to employers of the appetite for recognised training and qualifications.

Third, and just as important, is the combination of passion and pride that comes when you see you are making a difference, even to a huge event like London 2012.

Seats were given up on Tubes for Games Makers. That instantaneous feedback and response increased their desire to deliver better hospitality. They fed off the reaction of their customers, which inspired them to do an even better job.

Businesses always do better when they consider the impact of customer feedback on their own performance. We will all do well to spend time thinking how we can ignite a little of the Games Maker spirit in our own organisations.

Jill McDonald is chief executive officer of McDonald’s UK.