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Volume Recruitment... a Marathon, Not a Sprint
Staffing one of the most successful Games in history didn’t happen overnight
The sheer scale of locating, attracting and hiring the people needed to make London 2012 happen required a staggered and systematic approach to the overall recruitment programme. Heather Andrews, interim head of resourcing, played a key part in developing a number of the campaigns. She shares insight into the strategy, delivery plans and key milestones with Page Executive’s HR practice.
The vision for volunteers
Volunteer attraction was truly a greenfield site when Heather first joined the LOCOG team in August 2009 to design and develop the recruitment plan to hire 70,000 volunteers for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Although the Sydney Games were recognised as a success in this area, they took place more than a decade ago – before the advent of social media and online recruitment. There was also little transferable information available from the most recent Olympics (Beijing in 2008) due to the difference in approach.
An aim of 2012 was to evolve the face of volunteering in the UK, so Heather had a significant amount to achieve from scratch with rigid timescales. Heather operated as work stream lead on the creation of the volunteer behaviours through consultation with both LOCOG function representatives and engagement with the volunteer sector. Once agreed, these sat at the core of the recruitment and selection approach which would interview circa 100,000 volunteers and select 70,000 games makers.
Preparing for paid workers
After handing the delivery of the volunteer project to a permanent incumbent, Heather returned to LOCOG on a three month contract to develop the strategy for the recruitment of 4500 temporary paid staff for Games time. Heather relied on what she’d learned during the design of volunteer piece but had to factor in the added complexity of contractually employing the staff for the period.
Heather developed the recruitment and readiness strategy and was subsequently invited to lead the paid recruitment programme as a whole on behalf of LOCOG and Hyphen/Adecco, the London 2012 recruitment delivery partner.
Taking accountability for the delivery of the 8000 strong paid workforce with 14 months to go was a challenge but the implementation of the changes she recommended in the readiness plan created the building blocks for delivery. LOCOG’s focus was turning to integration of programmes across the organisation and missed deadlines could have significant external implications across the organisation.
With 100 people at peak operation over multiple locations, it was essential that the team was fit for purpose and they had clarity on delivery. Bringing on board people who were practical, flexible and passionate was essential as there was no time for long induction processes. Despite any sudden changes in the agenda, they worked as team and delivered – both collectively and individually. The role required the ability to work with ever-changing information, targets and a proactive approach that there would always be a way through no matter the challenges.
Dedicated to diversity
Heather and her teams adhered to the six strands of diversity at the heart of LOCOG’s recruitment strategy, each sponsored by a board director:
There was a focus on making a social impact and creating a legacy for London by reaching out to the widest talent pool and engaging local communities and the young people within them. Targets were set to recruit 15-20% of people from some of the most deprived areas of London. Working with the six host boroughs surrounding the Olympic parks, Heather and her teams were able to exceed the targets by implementing dedicated campaigns and programmes that worked at the heart of these communities. Programmes varied from working with CV brokerages and Job Centre Plus, to presenting at careers fairs in religious centres and engaging people at community events. The key ingredient was to build strong advisory relationships throughout the campaign to help and encourage the widest talent pool to apply.
The UK economy emerged from recession in the three months from July to September 2012, helped in part by the sale of Olympic tickets alone adding 02% to the figures. It’s hard to pinpoint a further exact monetary value that the events contributed to the economy, but the ‘Olympic effect’ that London 2012 generated was evident, from both a social and commercial aspect. This was made possible, in a large part, by the successful staffing of all Games venues, events and support services.
To find out how Heather, and other interim managers like her, can make a difference to your recruitment and resourcing requirements, please get in touch with Page Executive’s HR practice.