Sporting life is a rich repository of lessons

Debbie Lovewell-Tuck

The political unrest in Brazil is currently overshadowing preparations for this year’s Olympic games for many. Yet, when the curtain rises on the opening ceremony, eyes around the world will be on Rio to support and cheer on their national teams.

As the competition gets underway, spectators could take away much more than a sense of national pride. The link between sporting prowess and performance means there are a number of lessons that translate from the sporting world into people management and reward strategies.

With many Olympic athletes relying on sponsorship for funding, rather than lucrative pay deals (unlike many other sports), there are a number of other factors motivating individuals and driving both personal and team performance.

And in sports, such as football, where money is less of an issue, just what is it that motivates and boosts team performance? Bosses at Leicester City Football Club, for example, have, over the course of the season, turned the team around from near relegation to a strong contender (at the time of writing) to win the Premier League.

So, what lessons can HR and reward professionals take from this, and how can these be applied in their own organisations to enhance employee motivation and performance?

Of course, to remain at the top of their game, ensuring they remain in peak physical condition is crucial for all sports professionals. While no employer would ever dream of expecting their workforce to invest the same amount of time and dedication in their health and fitness, there are a number of tangible business reasons for employers to invest in employee health and wellbeing, for example, through healthy eating initiatives and encouraging staff to take more exercise. Find out more about the lessons HR and reward professionals can take from the sporting world.

Poor sleep quality or habits can greatly impact an employee’s concentration, productivity and mental wellbeing, which in the long term can prove damaging to their motivation and engagement. If UK employers follow the example of US organisations and address the impact of employees’ sleeping habits on health and productivity, then sleep management could be the next big thing in workplace wellbeing programmes.

Employers that are leading the way in benefits strategies and provision are celebrated on the shortlist for the Employee Benefits Awards 2016, which we announce this month. Find out who made the shortlist at

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The winners will be announced at the Employee Benefits Awards and Summer Party on 3 June at the HAC, London.

Debbie Lovewell-Tuck