The Olympic and Paralympic Games do not only bring together athletes from around the world together, these events also stimulate economic activity in the host by way of professional training, ‘upskilling’ and job creation. To ensure that this positive impact does not wear off once the Olympics and Paralympic Games have been completed a number of stakeholders work together to ensure lasting sustainability and positive disruption of the local jobs market. Maïté Dubearnes is the Director of Human Resources at the Major Events section of Atos, the International Computer Partner of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. This French company has 100,000 employees in 72 countries and has been proactively been adapting to the world of sport including the Olympic and Paralympic Games since 1992.
What is the size of the dedicated team that works during an Olympic Games?
We have a lot of staff to manage. There are about 300 people in Spain in our permanent team of Atos Major Events and then the number of employees fluctuates in each Olympic country. There are 33 permanent employees here in PyeongChang, [a group] in Tokyo to start preparing for the 2020 Tokyo Games, and one person in charge of human resources in each country. As far as HR management is concerned, in Spain it does not differ much from a normal company. In countries that host events, however, it's different. It's like starting a new business every two years, in a new country. You have to build a team, get a good grasp of the administration and the labour laws. We have a specific recruitment plan with each committee, which we put in place four years before the Games.
What types of people do you recruit?
At first we build a management team, and for that we need people who have Olympic experience for several years. In PyeongChang, for example, we have some Spaniards who have already worked for several Olympic Games, a Greek from the Athens Games, an Italian who made the Turin Games, and so on. When we do the second wave of recruitment we recruit 80-90% of the team locally. This is because it is important to have people who speak the language, but also because for us the social impact on the country is very important.
Do you meet particular challenges in the Republic of Korea?
In both the Republic of Korea and Japan, people prefer permanent contracts. There was therefore a possibility that people would leave before the Games in favour of a job with a permanent contract.
What would be your strategy to convince them to stay?
They have an advantage if they stay in the form of the many courses we offer, especially English classes. We also try to train them in areas other than their designated roles such as management, communication, etc. As we hire them for a period of 4 years, we either seek to hire them in the company, or we improve their future employability, which is a very important aspect. But when a candidate has the Olympics on their CV, in most cases, they do not have to worry too much about their employability in future
The Olympic Games are a huge celebration that people want to enjoy how do you manage that expectation among your employees?
There is a lot of work and we cannot afford the slightest mistake. But after work, we organize many things, among other things we distribute tickets for competitions and we go for example in the "Houses" held by the Olympic Committees of each country to celebrate. In addition to having a great time, it strengthens the bonds in the team. We can also live exceptional moments. Here about twenty employees were able to run with the Olympic flame. Especially for Koreans, being able to run in their own country is a huge pride. This is also the kind of event that allows people to be proud to stay at Atos and create memories that they will keep for a lifetime.