The summer of 2021 has brought a compendium of major sporting events, with the Covid-affected Euros and Olympic games making for an action-packed season. Coupled with the launch of fast-paced cricket tournament, The Hundred, as well as longstanding annual events such as Wimbledon, sport provides ample opportunities for businesses to not only engage with these spectacles but also enhance their own best-practice principles.
Account executive Pete Mumford reflects on the key takeaways from the events that businesses can use to enhance their internal culture and external image.
Sporting activities – for the most part – promote positive lifestyle decision-making. However, with only two thirds of adults reporting that they engage in regular physical activity (Public Health England, 2019/20) the key underlying trend of exercise uptake suggests a shift in modes of participation may be needed.
Businesses present the perfect opportunity to help exercise engagement, with group activities creating a more appealing and comfortable environment for people to participate in. While typical office group exercise such as circuit training or a bike ride are great for getting a fitness boost, the likelihood of gathering new interest and maintaining this through long-term participation remains low.
While the popular sports are more regularly in the public eye, the niche events that are less ubiquitous on the global stage provide fresh opportunities to garner public interest. Consider instead more unique group activities such as bouldering – a safer indoor version of rock climbing that is perfect for an office social – or have a team participation in a corporate badminton tournament, creating a competitive element while also allowing for networking opportunities.
With viewing figures peaking at nearly 31 million for the Euro 2020 Final (SportsPro Media) and lockdown restrictions coming to an end, there is a burning desire to watch sport in a social setting.
Office watch-alongs are a great option to break up the working week – such as discussing last night’s football during your lunch break, or even a trip to the cricket on a Friday afternoon.
Either way, joint viewership will help to create more organic workplace socialisation and potentially bring people together across the business, who may have been previously unaware of their shared interests.
Celebrating local success is a surefire way to engage with the community. Posting messages of support to local athletes is a great way for a business to remain in touch with the community, especially if the business is not established in the new area.
Consider sponsoring a local athlete or sports team to help play your part in delivering future successes. It could be providing a grant to help towards training or travel costs, or free use of your company’s services. In return they give your business increased brand visibility through athletes displaying your logo on their kit and mentioning your business on their social media posts.
The events over the summer have seen a paradigm shift in what is considered elite athlete mentality. ‘Win at all costs’ – typically associated with achieving major sporting success – has been kicked aside by several high-profile athletes choosing to prioritise their mental health.
It is the responsibility of leaders now more than ever to recognise this change of mentality in the workplace too, which will serve employers well in terms of job retention – as more opportunities become available for remote working or hybrid work patterns.
Furthermore, a combination of mentorship, line management and regular staff engagement surveys are a perfect way to check up on the wellbeing and perspective of employees, helping to identify issues more quickly and help to retain talent.
From spectacular feats to inspiring stories of success from the underdog, your businesses’ social platforms become a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate that you are on the pulse and reflect the virtues of sport within your own business – whether that’s celebrating employee success or something more lighthearted to imitate these sports events, such as an office Olympics.
Major sporting events are a medium for allowing people from different backgrounds and cultures to make their voices heard on a global stage. These social messages and experiences of the sporting elite could be very relatable and important to your employees too. Making a conscious effort to ask your staff what issues are important to them and finding ways to support this in your external image and CSR initiatives can drive internal engagement – such as supporting a sports charity for people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The power of sport and its major events bring incredible potential for a company – regardless of its expertise or association. It can elevate the personal wellbeing of staff, boost internal culture and create a more positive and engaged brand image, as well as bringing refreshing networking opportunities that cultivate organic relationships and business opportunities.