The decision by the Olympic Development Authority (ODA) to make its head of HR report to the finance director prompted a pretty fiery debate. Some of you think there’s no big deal about who you report to; it’s what HR does that counts.
Others react with fury to the suggestion that HR should be given anything other than premier league status
But there is a much bigger picture that goes beyond the ODA’s own HR structure. The pressure to put skills top of the list when bidding for Olympics’ contracts will be music to the ears of many an HR professional.
Ever since it was announced that London had won the bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games, it’s been clear that the rush to recruit the right people will be a huge opportunity for HR to show off its own skills.
But making the Games a success is about much more than bringing the right people on board and leaving them to it. It’s having a strategy to develop their skills that will make the real difference.
MPs and union leaders are playing tough on this one, quite rightly suggesting that organisations putting in tenders for Olympics’ business must be forced to include a commitment to offer apprenticeships to locals, and to train and develop staff. Only organisations with ‘champion employment practices’ should be allowed to win the contracts.
The skills shortages hampering UK productivity are well-documented, particularly in the construction sector, which will play a crucial part in the Olympics. Bearing in mind how lucrative these contracts will be, and the hoops that organisations will have to jump through, the bidding employers are likely to look to HR for advice and expertise in helping establish and present world-class people practices.
The effects should reach far beyond 2012, as this obligation to focus on long-term people development could be an important step towards solving this skills crisis. HR can ensure the competitors won’t be the only winners at the Olympics.